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Is Your Job Killing You?

Is Your Job Killing You?



While work is necessary for lifestyle and earnings, and while many people derive deep social and personal meaning from their work, it is also clear that some characteristics of some jobs are downright unhealthy, even despite high earnings and social and personal value.

Here are four examples:

  1. CHRONICALLY LONG WORK DAYS AND WEEKS: The WHO recently shared that workweeks longer than 55 hours are directly responsible for nearly three-quarters of a million deaths annually.
  2. CHRONIC SITTING: The Mayo Clinic has called sitting “the new smoking.”
  3. CHRONIC SLEEP DISTURBANCE: Abundant research demonstrates that 20% or more of people are on a work schedule that compromises their sleep schedules. Chronic sleep debt is correlated with poor work performance, excess weight, and chronic health issues.
    1. The U.S. EPA is explicit “that air pollution can trigger heart attacks, strokes and worsen heart failure in people who are at risk for these conditions.” [source] Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrated that the commuters themselves are significantly at risk, and those with long commutes are most at risk. [source]
      1. The WHO estimates that “in the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP.” [source] Note: The U.S. is #1 on the list, and spends about 18% of GDP on healthcare. Based on the WHO estimate, MORE THAN 20% — NEARLY A TRILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY — of U.S. healthcare costs are directly correlated to preventable air pollution.
      2. According to globalworkplaceanalytics.com, “The annual environmental impact of half-time remote work (for those who both want to work remotely and have a compatible job) would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking the entire NY State workforce off the road.” [source]
      3. “The annual toll of Americans who have died from air pollution is roughly equal to the number of people in the U.S. killed in car crashes every year [more than 100,000 people annually], according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” [source]
      4. I could not find data that readily enabled prediction of the number of lives saved if everyone who could commute did so. Can you help? If so, please comment below.
    2. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates that commutes as short as 10 miles each way are correlated with health risks including higher blood pressure, high BMI, and excess weight. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average U.S. commute was 27 miles in 2019; that’s nearly three times the health threshold of 10 miles.


What other stressors, costs, and health risks do you see in your job and other jobs in your community? Please share them in the Comments below.


A valuable exercise to better understand your own job-related stressors, risks and trade-offs is to simply draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, and:

  1. In the left column, write the stressors, risks, and social and personal costs of your job.
  2. In the right column, write the social and personal benefits and advantages of your job.
  3. Then you can assign an impact rating to each item in each column. I suggest a 1-5 scale, where 1 is minimal impact and 5 is impacting your quality of life or your health.
  4. Finally, consider the # of 4s and 5s and the total of the ratings in each column. Compare the totals. Draw your own conclusions about the relative trade-offs between benefits and costs.

If you’d like my free fill-in-the-blanks form, with instructions, you can get it HERE.

In today’s job market, many are spoiled for choice: now may be a great opportunity to make a well-deserved change!


My intention with this article isn’t to create an existential dilemma for anyone; whether we believe it or not, we all have options about what we do and how we spend our lives.


At the same time, as Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

You may rest assured that your employer, if a large and sophisticated organization, has certainly considered these factors in its operating and risk management plans.

Even as they churn out billions of dollars a year to shareholders, large companies are often notably weak in the support and resources they offer employees for basic ergonomics and other health risk management resources, even as their managers sometimes arbitrarily require office-bound staff members to use the inadequate and not thoughtfully designed tools, systems, management models, and schedules that are sometimes set based on opinion and not fact, for personal convenience or self-interest more so than business value. In many environments, you dare not raise your concerns either (“be a team player”; “nobody likes a complainer”; “the squeaky wheel may get the grease or may get fired”).


Yet, in the final analysis, you, the owner of your life and career will always be found accountable in the end, regardless of the circumstance. You are empowered to do whatever you must. As a rational adult empowered with responsibilities at work and at home, you are expected and trusted to make the choices that work best for you, your situation, and the company where you work. You are the captain of your own ship.


Get the assessment HERE, take the assessment, and make better-informed choices about your work and lifestyle.


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About me
Dylan Cornelius
Dylan Cornelius

Hi, I'm Dylan Cornelius.

I help mid-career knowledge workers and entrepreneurs execute their strategic plans using the career acceleration blueprint, even if they don't know where to start, they've never been a manager, and don't have a team. I'm the creator of the Career Acceleration Academy.

I've led small and large collocated and remote teams, delivering more than $40 million in revenues and cost savings. My teams and I have delivered ground-breaking products and services that still power successful businesses today.

I've worked as a recruiter, manager, and team leader in Silicon Valley and around the world. I have more than 30 years of experience in business management and leadership, plus psychology and business degrees from top universities.

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