What is Karoshi and What are its side effects?
Have you ever come across a friend or a coworker attempting suicide due to the pressure of working overtime? Not much, have you? Well, the Japanese do. In Japan, they call it ‘Karoshi’, which means ‘death by overwork’.
The Genesis of Karoshi
The infamous and tragic World War 2 ended with America dropping two nuclear bombs in Japan. After the catastrophic blow, Japan faced a huge economic downfall in the following years. To overcome the economic downfall, the then Japanese government decided to strengthen its economy rather than spending money on its military. The government encouraged its people to work long hours for the sake of their country. This means employees have to view their workplace as their second home and their colleagues as families.
As a result, during the years 1960-1990, Japan saw tremendous growth becoming the second largest economy in the world after the United States of America. As a saying goes, “Everything comes at a cost”, Japan’s growth came at a cost of a phenomenon known as “Karoshi”.
The Effects of Karoshi
If you walk along the streets of Tokyo during the night, often you can see men and women swaying their way to the train station or sleeping on the sidewalks. This is because of the aftereffects of their day at work. An employee of a reputed firm once said, “Regardless of completing my deliverables, I feel embarrassed to leave the office when my colleagues are still working”.
In 2015, a 24-year-old woman jumped to death from her office building after being forced to work for more than 105 overtime hours in the previous months. This unfair practice has been in the Japanese society for a long time now which is why the Japanese government stepped in to limit the overtime hours to 100, which is still very high when compared to countries across the world.
Takeaways from Karoshi
Even though we don’t see such incidents happening in India very often, we can also learn quite a few things from Karoshi. Because a good balance between work and life can be a LIFESAVER. If you feel burnt out from working, it is okay to take a day off or go on a vacation. It will help you reset your brain. A mentally and physically healthy employee can be more valuable than the fatigued one. From an Employer’s point of view, it is very important to take care of their people’s mental well-being.
Human beings are entertainment seekers, which is why we get bored of doing the same things again and again. It can be work, your favorite game, or your favorite dish. Too much of anything is good for nothing. Always mix it up to be the best in everything.