Earlier this month a 25 year old woman was seen on the streets of Shenzhen City in Guangdong, China carrying a sign that read: “Overnight and overtime work has made me into an old lady. Both my love and work lives are miserable. I request approval for workers' compensation.”
Now, wouldn't we all like that.
According to news stories, the woman claims that “working long hours and sometimes going without sleep have taken a toll on her physically. She says that this has led to rapid aging which she compares to a work related injury.” Experts on Chinese law say her claims would not be covered under current workers' compensation regulations, and her chances of getting benefits are slim. Still, considering she is in a country that routinely shoots “traitors” and then charges their family for the cost of the bullet, the demand is extraordinary.
Now, before we relegate this young woman off to the “Whiny Butthole” category, we should look further into her specific claims. She believes that working too many hours combined with sleep deprivation has aged her prematurely. She says this aging is the direct result of a workplace condition, therefore she deserves benefits designed to compensate for such “injuries”.
Imagine, for a moment, if we were to adopt such a policy here in the United States. We would be inundated with millions of claims, from every conceivable job category. It would be a premature geezer-fest like nothing we've ever witnessed. Compounding the issue would be the fact that there would be nobody left to process the claims, since our entire workers' compensation industry would be the first in line for benefits.
I mean, if ever there was an industry that was 45 going on 82, this one is it. Have you taken a good look at us at conferences? We're exhausted. Wrinkled. And gray (and I'm not talking about hair). Some of us have bags OVER our eyes, making our nose look like a packhorse. We get confused telling a Knock Knock joke, because we stop to answer the door. We tell children to “pull our finger”, and then can't remember why.
And that is just the Millennials among us.
Seriously, if working too hard and not getting enough sleep is compensable because it makes you old before your time, we as an industry are doomed. We wrote the book on workplace induced premature aging. If you don't believe me, look around. We will never live to be as old as we look. We should all file claims for benefits, except we probably wouldn't be able to remember why we filed them to begin with, let alone recall enough to fight the denial when it occurs.
No, as we fully think it through we realize the entire concept is a non-starter. That claim is not going to occur. We would be better off telling that 25 year old whiny butthole to put down her sign and get back to her thankless job. The world will be a better place because of it.
Ultimately, such a decision is possible because being overworked has made us smarter. The benefit of premature aging is that we also become prematurely wise.
Except for that dipwad in China. I don't know what that young whippersnappers problem is.