I read through a business piece today....out of the Japanese news.
At some point last month....a 24-year-old gal who worked in a Japanese ad agency....ended up working not only the normal 160 hours of work for her full-time job....but put in an additional 105 hours as well. It kinda equals out to working a ten-hour shift for Saturday and Sunday as well.
At the conclusion of this entire period, she couldn't take anymore, ended committing suicide.
It happens enough with Japanese workers that they've invented a word for this behavior....Karoshi....or death from overwork.
So far, the only result out of this episode has been the dismissal of the CEO.
My question would have been...what exactly did she do for the 105 hours that made any difference on the balance sheet of work accomplished? The sad thing is that she might have been standing there and taking orders from incompetent manager...doing mostly busy work, and never achieving anything worth discussing.
In most cultures....people would just walk away or find a new company. There's a limit to how much a person would do.
If this were a project with huge implications of protection or saving a company....with a 80-hour week to fix some mess, then I might be able to see some wisdom in one quick burst of work. But in most cases, once you cross the 50 hours a week point.....you aren't doing your best work. You start to do marginal work. You make mistakes. You start to question what you already did. You do less quality with less results.
Oddly, no one around this Japanese gal noticed the less results or cared to intervene. You would think that their objectives would be one and the same....yet they weren't.
Maybe there is some lesson learned from this tragic circumstance, but I doubt it. It's one of those things that shouldn't have occurred in the first place.