A six-year study that tracked British civil-servants had startling results: workers who put in an average of at least 11 hours per day at the office were two and a half times more likely to develop depression than their colleagues who clocked-out after working 7 to 8 hours.

In another study, researchers analyzed workplace factors affecting depression-risk in a group of 218 Japanese clerical workers. They found that employees who worked long hours (at least 60 per week) and had high job demands (defined as “usually” having too much work) were at higher risk for developing depression. When these same workers were re-evaluated one to three years later, those who worked long hours with high job demands were 15 times more likely to experience depression.

What about the American workforce? Recent studies show that American workers have passed the Japanese in average number of hours worked per week. Bottom-line: many business owners and employees are simply over-worked. With new regulations and tax increases, companies are shedding jobs to reduce costs. Employees are forced to produce large amounts of work, which translates into longer work hours. This combination often results in increased exhaustion, anxiety and stress; the common contributors that can lead to depression. Many owners and employees feel powerless to change their work situation and experience loss of hope. Simply put: many workers feel there isn’t enough time to maintain a balanced life to care for themselves spiritually, physically, and mentally.

As a fellow business owner, I urge each of us to take an inventory of our health and the health of our workers. Are we and our staff working too hard? Are our expectations just not realistic? There is overwhelming evidence that suggests that a demoralized workforce is less productive than a happy work force. When we are forced to reduce costs in our businesses, all other options must be placed on the table prior to reducing  our staff and increasing the stress levels of our employees and our own. Cutting staff is often counter-productive providing only temporary financial relief. The long-term consequences of an overworked owner and employees creates increased anxiety and for many depression.

I hope that you take some time off this summer. I hope that you encourage your staff to do the same.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (ESV Mark 8:36)