According to the OECD, Mexico currently tops the charts for longest hours worked whereas the US is around the middle. Germany enjoys the least amount of hours worked per annum. It has been a long upheld belief that the more hours an employee works, the better it is for the business, if not the employees. However, evidence suggests that this is not the case.

All work and no play can lead to a series of issues and it’s important for a business to strike the right balance between working enough hours to ensure the work gets done but also making sure their employees have a good quality of life and can maintain or even improve motivation and productivity.

Research by the Institute of Employment Studies has shown the negative impact that long working hours can have on a workforce, including:

  • Decrease in productivity
  • Physical health problems
  • Work/life imbalance
  • Poor performance
  • Demotivated employees
  • Mental health problems
  • High staff turnover rates
  • High staff sickness and absence rates
  • Unhappy office culture
  • Increase in workplace accidents and incidents
  • Back and neck pain, RSI injuries
  • Reduced sleep

Overworked employees are never going to perform to their best standard. As well as being physically exhausted, mental exhaustion can lead to mistakes being made and poor work.

A poll by NPR news concludes that many people suffer from high stress levels as a result of being overworked or working long hours. Stress is a major factor in negatively impacting a persons health and can lead to:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mental health issues
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Reduced immune systems

A business should vigilant and keep a look out for the following signs of stress within the workplace:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Low morale
  • Irritability
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Short temper
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Altercations between colleagues
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduced or increased appetite

If any of these signs are spotted, measures need to be taken to reduce workplace stress. As long working hours are a probable cause of stress, reducing them can go a long way towards improving employee wellness.

If a workforce is found to be working longer than average hours, an investigation should take place to discover the reasons why. Bad management or task allocation can mean that certain areas of the business are overloaded or that there simply isn’t enough staff employed to cover the workload.

Don’t fall into the old way of thinking that longer hours means more work gets done. Try looking at ways to reduce working hours and giving employees a great work/life balance as this will benefit the business by increasing productivity and staff morale.

Quality not quantity is the key.