Are long working hours worth it?
Does your organisation have a long hours culture? According to the TUC, the number of workers in the East Midlands who are regularly working more than 48 hours a week has risen by 18% since 2010. And this week the CIPD issued their 2015 Absence Management Survey which found that 31% of employers (and particularly those with long hours cultures) have seen an increase in ‘presenteeism’ - people coming to work when they are genuinely unwell due to fear their job may be at risk if they take time off.
Most organisations will experience times during the year when demands exceed the number of working hours available, and there is generally no detriment to employees who work longer hours on an occasional basis. A growing body of research is now showing that working longer hours for any extended period of time (more than 3-4 weeks at a time) brings a number of risks for both employees and their organisations.
Productivity drops as working hours increase.
In fact, while the first 10 additional hours are probably as productive as the first 40, the next 5 are much less effective, and once you get to 55 hours in a week, your productivity plummets. (reported here)
Managers really don’t appreciate it!
Another study published in the Harvard Business Review suggested managers are unable to tell the difference between staff who actually work long hours and those who just pretend to work longer.
Long hours are bad for your health
Links between long hours and conditions such as diabetes, stress, mental illness and heart disease have been known for some time. Research reported in 2015 found the risk of stroke increased by a third in individuals who worked long hours (above 55 hours a week) compared with individuals with traditional 9-5 working hours. Long working hours are likely to lead to higher absence rates and increased costs for employers.
So is there an alternative? Well, Sweden has been experimenting for some time with reduced working hours, and is now taking steps to introduce a six-hour work day across the country. According to their studies, workers achieve just as much in six hours as they previously did in eight hours – they just do it without the inefficiencies, distractions and time-wasting!
Do you want to tackle long hours in your organisation? We offer workshops and coaching for individuals and groups to help get to the root of the problem and come up with practical solutions. Give us a call and see how we can save you time!
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