Are long hours reducing productivity?

Working long hours has become commonplace in Australian businesses, however research suggests that those extra hours aren't adding to a more productive workforce.

According to a study last year, there is a point where more hours worked do not result in added value for the company. The research, conducted by an academic from Stanford University, revealed that working very long hours isn't resulting in staff getting more done.

The research found that when staff work below 48 hours a week, there is a clear correlation between performance and hours worked – with longer days leading staff to achieve more.

However, once they crossed the 48-hour mark, their productivity dropped of measurably. By 72 hours, productivity levels had more or less flat-lined, with staff achieving almost nothing more than they would in a shorter time period, despite putting in longer hours.

As well as being less productive, there were other issues that staff displayed when putting in long hours. For example, staff that worked for 50 or more hours made more mistakes and were more likely to experience accidents. These workers were also more likely to experience burnout and high levels of stress.

For companies, there are clear benefits to allowing staff to work fewer normal hours and retaining a focus on productive outcomes. The study emphasised that many employers have probably never considered that it might be possible to reduce working hours and maintain productivity.

However, this research suggests that this is not only possible but actually desirable for employers.

While actively reducing long work hours may help to reduce staff anxiety, there are other tools which staff can use to better improve operational performance. Having effective recruitment software is just one of the ways organisations can boost productivity and ensure their internal processes are effective.

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