Rest in Peace, 40-Hour Workweek

The era of the six-day workweek has dawned. Find out whether that's good or bad for employees.

Rest in Peace, 40-Hour Workweek Photo (cc) by bark

More than half of workers recently polled by CNN Money say they feel pressure to work more than eight hours per day, plus some weekend time.

A separate study by Gallup found that half of full-time workers already put in more than 40 hours per week — 47 hours is the average, practically six days’ worth:

  • 60 or more hours: 18 percent
  • 50 to 59 hours: 21 percent
  • 41 to 49 hours: 11 percent
  • 40 hours: 42 percent
  • Less than 40 hours: 8 percent

This could mean employers are getting a bargain out of salaried employees, who are shortchanged because they’re ineligible for overtime pay.

Busier employees can be happier employees, Gallup reports:

Highly engaged workers who log well over 40 hours will still have better overall well-being than actively disengaged workers who clock out at 40 hours.

Other studies have shown, however, that putting in too many hours leads to decreased productivity by employees, and therefore diminishing returns for employers.

A report by Stanford University professor John Pencavel last year found this to be true of employees who worked especially long hours.

The output of employees working 70 hours per week, for example, “differs little” from that of employees working 56 hours, meaning the extra 14 hours of work were essentially a waste of time, according to the Stanford report.

An analysis by The Economist last year found that harder-working countries are not necessarily more productive.

For example, Greeks work more than 2,000 hours per year on average while Germans work about 1,400 hours — yet Germans are about 70 percent more productive.

Ryan Sanders, who co-founded a software company called BambooHR, limits his 130-plus employees to 40 hours per week because he believes burnout is bad for businesses, workers and their families, CNN Money reports:

You’re fooling yourself if you think you’ll get it all done… It becomes really crucial to prioritize.

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Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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