Just in case you didn’t catch it the first 800 times this “news” came out—listen up: Your job is killing you. As in, it’s pretty much strangling you slowly as you sit in that chair every day. How can you just keep sitting there? Aren’t you worried? Do something for pete’s sake!
Oh. Right. You actually need that job to survive. Well, that’s a conundrum, now isn’t it? You’d think with all the scary headlines about how overworked we are, this was a totally preventable situation. While I think it’s valuable to have some insight on how sitting on our keesters for nearly half of each day will probably result in some pretty unpleasant conditions, what exactly can we do about it?
It’s not like scaring the crap out of us each day is going to make us healthier. In fact, about half the articles I read that tell me I’m essentially killing myself by going to work every day, never provide anything in the way of a solution. Oh, and by the way, suggesting fluffy crap like, “ask yourself if you really need to work those extra hours…” is not a solution. Conclusions like this are not only useless, but they’re dangerous as well. While I think it’s important for workers to take responsibility for their own health, the number of hours they work, and how many of them are spent seated in front of a computer is rarely within their realm of control. So why are we freaking out all the hard working folks out there just trying to get by? Why aren’t these articles instead, titled “Employers, You’re Killing Your Employees”?
That’s what’s really going on, isn’t it? Employers ultimately dictate the overall office culture, the hours, and set the tone for how much face time is really expected—because let’s face it, any boss who tells you your hours are 9-5 is lying. So now, on top of squeezing anywhere from 10-12 hours out of each employee every day, but only paying them for eight, they’re being let off the hook for enabling these expectations in the first place.
Personally, I think it’s time for everyone to stop pointing fingers, and especially making workers feel like it’s completely their fault they’re overweight and completely stressed out, and start encouraging employers to take some responsibility for the situation they’ve created. Instead of explaining to us how sitting all day is raising our blood pressure—as if we can really do a whole lot about that—why don’t we start putting the pressure on employers to stop looking down on the practice of taking lunches, or leaving work on time.
A recent campaign called “Take Back Your Summer” from the lovely folk of Las Vegas, drew a surprising amount of commentary. Many were surprised that such a revolt seemed necessary, and that workers shouldn’t feel so tied to their desks that they can’t slip out to grab lunch occasionally, much less take their earned vacation days, but a more frightening number of comments simply agreed, resigned to the fact they’ll never really be able to enjoy the benefits their employers promised in their compensation package.
So, when you think about it. Is it really your job that’s killing you, or is it your employer who’s leading you into harms way?