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How to solve the problem of long hours

Nina Bryant explores the increase in anxiety, depression and stress among professionals and offers potential solutions – from scrapping extensive hours to building boundaries and looking after staff well-being

Economic analysis

Thousands of workers die each year due to long working hours, according to pre-pandemic research by the World Health Organization (WHO) – with an estimated 745,000 workers worldwide dying in one year alone. WHO’s findings revealed a link between working 55 hours or more a week and a raised incidence of stroke or fatal heart disease, particularly in older men. Yet earlier this year, details of a Goldman Sachs staff poll from the US were leaked to the media, alleging a culture of “inhumane” 100-hour working weeks among recent recruits. Days later, a London-based junior banker spoke anonymously to the Guardian, claiming 18-hour days meant that the lowest-paid team members didn’t even get the equivalent of the London Living Wage, and several were on sick leave due to burnout.