Contrary to what many employers and employees believe, working overtime and exceeding the normal 40 hours per week does not equate to higher productivity. To increase output, many employers can be found pushing their staff to work more hours with overtime pay; however, there are also workers that are asked to work for long hours without demanding for additional remuneration. The points discussed below show several reasons why you or your employees should not exceed the recommended 40 hours of work per week.
Productivity Diminishes With Overwork
A big question that all managers and business owners need to ask is: is overwork or overtime actually resulting in increased output? Studies carried out by various researchers show that the answer is no. Working for extra hours after the recommended 40 hours per week does not translate into higher productivity because humans are not robots. After working for 8 hours, the brain naturally gets tired and needs to rest and get refreshed before it can return to the state required for optimum productivity. Any work done after the brain has become tired will be low quality work that could cause the organization more.
In fact, research carried out at Stanford University shows that employee output diminishes sharply when employees put in over 50 hours or more per week. This implies that someone working for up to 70 hours does not increase output within the extra 20 hours. In a study by Erin Reid, a professor of business studies at Boston University, managers admitted that they could not differentiate between the workers who actually worked for 80 hours a week and those who simply pretended to do so.
Overtime Work Causes Fatigue
Initially, when workers are encouraged to work for long hours, they may produce some additional output. But after four to six weeks, the productivity will diminish; the output will become so poor that it will be better to return to the standard 40-hour week. So an employee who works for 60 to 80 hours per week for two months will be less productive than a person that works for 40 hours per week. Fatigue will naturally set in because of insufficient time to rest and refresh the body and mind in the evenings and on weekends.
More Mistakes and Errors Occur During Overtime Work
No matter how much you like your job and how much you put in extra hours, you are going to make more mistakes and lose concentration faster when your body and mind are tired. Due to the common habit of taking caffeinated drinks, many knowledgeable workers cross their body’s threshold of tiredness without knowing it. Eventually, this leads to a significant drop in performance and quality of results.
Way back in the early days of the industrial revolution, in the 19th century, labour unions forced factory owners to observe workplace safety requirements and restrict their working hours to eight. Subsequently, factory managers expressed surprise because output and work quality improved. Today, over 100 years after, research conducted by Harvard Business School shows that the 40-hour work week is still the most productive.
Sleep Deprivation Reduces Efficiency
In addition to fatigue, sleep deprivation is one of the common features of workers who work overtime. Unfortunately, the lure of technology can cause you to ask your employees to respond to e-mails at odd hours and give up their evenings, weekends and holidays without even raising an eyebrow. Similarly, many workers now give up their sleep in order to put in extra hours of work at night without considering the dire consequences. Denying yourself of sleep regularly can lead to serious health issues.
Overwork Causes Health Problems
Overwork can hurt us and the organisations where we work by raising the cost of employee sick leave and health insurance. Various studies including those by Finland’s Institute of Occupational Health have revealed that overwork leads to increased stress and several other health problems. Due to the sleep debt you will accumulate because of those extra hours of work, you stand a higher risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke. Inadequate sleep will also have a bad effect on the part of your brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for organising facts and creating a sound memory.
Mila Payton writes the blogs for Central College. She enjoys reading and writing about education, career and motivation.