There is a person in every building and sometimes on every floor, who are always at work before you and always there after you. They are the best: they miss lunch to get more work done. They tell you stories of how they stayed up all night to fix a problem, they tell you how they stopped a certain course of studies because their work needed them, they tell you they left the office at 7pm or 6pm or 8pm, on Mondays they recall that they forgot something on the office on Sunday.
On first sight people like this seem inspirational and promotion-bound. Is this the entire truth? Visiting a clinic for people suffering from burnout and exhaustion could be a turn off to such ideas.
The truth is that no-one's boss ever said "NO" to more work. All companies either openly or by blind eye support people who work more than their official hours. More than legal hours. More than what the GP says.
Some companies (make that many) even have a policy of "we don't pay overtime" (regardless of basic conditions of employment). Is this really good?
Longer work means duration and hard work implies intensity. There is no link since intensity is can be high in short durations but impossible over long ones. (meaning working long does not mean working hard)
There is another concept, the 20/80 rule. 80% of results originate in 20% effort expanded. Productivity is non-linear (meaning more doesn't = more) !
I am quite sure, and research supports me on this that the long term result of overwork is: job dissatisfaction, poor work performance, mistakes, burnout, fatigue, marriage problems (which leads back to more work problems), stress disorders, chronic illness and early retirement to name a few.
Office superheros may be more human than anyone in HR thinks they are. Missing meals causes blood sugar fluctuations which over time, through insulin release leads to diabetes. Further the lack of sleep causes excess cortisol to be released which causes stress and adds risk to dementia later in age. Psychology research points to the personality of people who have a high need for acknowledgement: sometimes the result of conditional love while growing up among a long list of causes.
According to research done in Henry Ford's day, a man needs to only work 5 days. The 6th he needs to be entertained and work on himself, and the 7th he needs to meditate and be spiritual.
All in all producing growth in his life (which logically also makes him better at work), and where there is no growth there is no progress.
Today working hours are being stretched to maximum possible, even though there is no real correlation between longer hours worked and higher productivity. In fact the opposite is true.
If you really want to be the best, think long term. If you really want get ahead in your career, Sleep: Rest your way to top health. Take your lunch break, eat! If you are a manager, give people time off! If you are in HR make sure people are not working themselves to death! It is in everyone's interest: Leave work at work and separate work from your personal life by not thinking about it when you get home. (Easier said than done, yes: but the more you do it the easier it gets somehow)