Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week

It would seem logical that those who work more than 40 hours a week would be more productive and accomplish more tasks, yet studies have shown that the opposite is true. In the early 1900s, the Ford Motor Company conducted numerous tests to determine the optimum work hours for worker productivity. They concluded that 40 hours a week is the optimal time, while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity. However, this increase has a deadline – productivity only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative.

While this study was conducted for Ford’s factory workers, the same holds true for the corporate world. Workers – including managers, who are the biggest culprits of the 40+ hour work week – accomplish more tasks when they put in just a solid 40 hours as opposed 60 or more hours a week.

While you may think that you are accomplishing more by logging in the extra hours, overworking tends to result in projects that are not as high quality, often being set aside or redone. Additionally, those who consistently work long hours get burned out and, as you might expect, start having personal problems that lead to decreased productivity and stress (for ways to combat stress, see the article, “Easy Ways to Limit Stress”).

Those who praise the benefits of long work weeks cite countries such as Thailand, Korea, and Pakistan, where a longer work week gives the implication of a competitive advantage. However, in six of the top ten most competitive countries in the world, it is illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week. In most European countries, the 40+ hour work week that the United States business world has considered the norm simply doesn’t exist.

For the sake of your company and your employees, don’t frown when your employees leave at a reasonable hour, and make sure you do as well. In the end, your team – and you – will be more effective, happier, and willing to work.

Below is a list of the average work weeks in other countries.

Average Work Weeks in Other Countries: CNBC.com
South Korea – 46.6
Singapore – 46
China – 44
Greece – 42.4
Iceland – 41.1
Poland – 41.1
Spain – 39.2
Portugal – 39
United States – 38.8
Italy – 38.3
France – 38
Finland – 37.6
United Kingdom – 37
Australia – 36.6
Canada – 36.5
Ireland – 36
Germany – 35.5
Denmark – 35.2

Click here for full article.

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