Overworked? Research Says Working Less Is More From A Productivity Standpoint

Why working overtime is not worth it
Why working overtime is not worth it
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Working overtime? Did you know that spending more than the required hours at work is seemingly a waste of time? Here’s why.

According to a Stanford paper by John Pencavel, reducing the number of working hours can actually be beneficial from a productivity standpoint. After analyzing the data of the work hours and work performance in British munition factories during the first World War, Pencavel found that munition workers needed shorter working hours. How’s that?

In the data, it was apparently easy to determine the number of work hours and compare them to the number of a worker’s output because the employees were paid on a piece-rate basis. The collected information were placed on a graph, which Pencavel carefully examined. And as per his findings, the relationship of the working hours and the workers’ output was “non-linear.”

To put in other words, the number of working hours and the number of output are not parallel on the graph. As the number of hours at work increases, the number of output doesn’t follow.

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Pencavel also noted that people who worked at a regular 49-hour shift in a week showed a proportioned work output. But those who exceeded the 49th hour mark, the output reportedly started to fall. Meaning, workers who stay late has showed a decreased number of production in a week.

Research says working less hours is good for productivity
Research says working less hours is good for productivity

With all these stated, Pencavel believes that reducing the work hours of employees may be good for productivity. See, increasing the amount of time a worker spends on his or her job doesn’t ensure a bigger or increased output.

As a matter of fact, Pencavel pointed that the productivity of working for very long hours such as 60 to 70 hours are even starker. In other words, there’s a little to no difference between committing 40 hours per week versus working for 50 hours and more.

Go to the next page to see the video.


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