A Lidl employee in Spain has taken the supermarket to court after it allegedly sacked him for working too many hours.
An investigation by the discount supermarket found that the man identified as Jean P. had come to work early on five separate occasions - and up to 90 minutes in some instances. While Jean argued that he wanted to hit his sales targets, Lidl highlighted that employees are required to sign in to start their shifts so they can be compensated.
"Interestingly, he is penalised, which of course is unusual, to work too hard and try to make his shop work properly," commented the lawyer representing him.
Jean P's fate remains to be seen. But whether we work in a supermarket or an office, most of us have had sweaty palms as we've felt the pressure to hit targets and been tempted to linger at work longer than we're officially required too.
The good news for workaholics and the idle alike is evidence suggests that sticking around after you're meant to clock off is no good for anyone. So, we better clock off now, then?
It's terrible for your health
Many studies show that working overtime negatively affects a person's health. A 2012 study into 2,123 British civil servants over six years found that those who worked at least 11 hours a day were two and a half times more likely to develop depression than those who were in the office for seven or eight-hours - even when external factors were taking into account. Separate research published this year involving almost 8,000 people linked sitting down for excessive periods to an early death.
"I was once told by an employer 'you're expected to work for the company, not die for the company,' and this rings true," Dr David Cliffe, an executive business coach and mentor with 30 years' experience tells IBTimes UK. "Overworking leads to burnout, which can have a detrimental effect on the business. It can lead to employees requiring time off or leaving the business altogether, stress, mental health issues, and a lack of motivation. Working smarter, rather than harder, can help to prevent this."
And when we're stressed we're not always well-equipped to cope with our emotions, Dr Paul McLaren, of Priory's Hayes Grove Hospital in Kent, tells IBTimes UK. "Working more hours than is healthy for you, leads to imbalance and stress. If we then respond to the stress signals with bad coping strategies, such as alcohol to unwind or stimulant drugs to keep us going, we risk getting sucked into a vicious spiral that will end in addiction or depression."
It can damage the business
Martin Woolley, the CEO of The Specialist Works media agency which has made The Sunday Times Best Small Businesses to Work For list three years running highlights tells IBTimes UK that "the 'can't-say-no's" can cover a lot of ground and sometimes spend more time working than others. While that sounds great on paper, it can see employees devoting hours to making mistake after mistake.
"It is important to make sure these are clear and you are aware of what they are doing. If they start down the wrong path, they might be a long way up it by the time you realise," he says, adding:"Workaholics should be encouraged to respect time with family or away from work as they risk burnout and strain on relationships by prioritising work over other things."
It stops creative juices flowing
If Apple and Google have proven anything, it's that innovation and new ideas are what people remember in the long run, not that extra half hour you were sat at your desk scrolling through your emails while wearing your best concentration face. By studying the processes of famous scientists, Graham Wallace, the author of The Art of Thought, found that allowing time for ideas and information to percolate is vital for creating the best ideas.
"There is a notion that down time is bad or a waste of time, however this is the time we use to reflect and strategise," Cliff tells IBTimes UK. He adds: "Those who are always in 'up' time aren't accessing their higher thinking structures only reacting to situations. This means they will work less effectively long term."