Report: More Israelis are over-working

Statistics show that 5 percent of Israelis are currently working 60 or more hours a week.

TA stock exchange 224 88 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
TA stock exchange 224 88
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Israel has one of the highest rates of "over-working" among developed nations, according to a recent report published by the Bank of Israel. Statistics show that 5 percent of Israelis are currently working 60 or more hours a week. The data used excluded workers who earn less than NIS 30 a week, who are assumed to work extra hours out of financial necessity rather than from "workaholism." (Among low-income earners, more than 9% work more than 60 hours a week). But Dr. Raphael Snir, senior lecturer at the Tel Aviv-Yafo Academic College, says these statistics are not necessarily correlated to real workaholism. "These are convenient statistics to use," said Snir, explaining that while the study avoided listing those who work extra hours out of economic considerations, it ignored the fact that many other people put in extra hours without becoming workaholics. "Workaholics are people who have an uncontrollable desire to be at work for a significant amount of time," said Snir. Those who are putting in long hours because the work culture demands it, such as in the hi-tech industry, or people who enjoy working and put in extra hours, can not be considered in workaholics, but they would be included in this survey. "All workaholics are over-workers, but not all over-workers are workaholics," he said. However, Israel is one of the most over-working societies among developed nations, according to the report, though still topped by the work-focused societies of Japan and South Korea. Men are about three times as likely to put in extra hours as women in Israel, who may be required to be at home with their children or assume less stressful positions because of gender bias and other factors. Snir said workaholism is often the result of a match between an organization's needs and a worker's psychological disposition. Research shows that much workaholism is related to obsessive-compulsive personality, a psychological disorder whose symptoms include perfectionism and rigid conformity to rules and procedures. Research by Dr. Bryan Robinson, author of Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them, indicates that workaholics may come from families where the parents were workaholics or - conversely - from families that suffered from chaos, such as those with an alcoholic parent. Snir said such individuals are often unconsciously selected by employers in fields such as computer programming. "These companies have an organizational culture that values output, that assumes that a worker who works more hours is a better worker." But the truth, much empirical research has shown, is that longer hours result in worse decision-making and poorer employee performance. Snir said that a study of doctors working long shifts showed that overworking brought about more arguments, poorer diagnoses, and an overall decline in quality of medical treatment. Still, Snir emphasized that not all overworking is negative. "You have to look at two factors - its root and its effects. Is it coming from a compulsive place? Is it disrupting family life? If so, that is workaholism."