Americans pride themselves on working long and hard. The idea, of course, is that all those hours add up to increased productivity. But what if working more doesn’t necessarily translate into creating more?
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A recent infographic from Agenday offers evidence that working harder might not add up to working smarter. In fact, if we look at the work hours of various countries and compare that with their productivity (defined here as annual hours worked divided by GDP), it’s clear that working more, after a certain point, is associated with lower productivity.
For example, of the seven countries listed, Mexico worked the longest hours, and had the lowest productivity. Germany, on the other hand, had the shortest work hours, but ranked third for productivity.
This isn’t new information. Data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2012 showed that among its member countries, longer working hours, in general, correlated with lower productivity.
So why are employers still pushing for bigger time commitments from their workers? That’s harder to quantify. In part, it’s probably psychological: even if the numbers show that spending more time at the office doesn’t equal getting more done, it’s hard to embrace a new mindset that focuses less on face-time.
And then there’s the fact that the work world for the past few years has been a buyer’s market, with employers holding most of the power. If the economy continues to improve, we could eventually see the focus shift toward true productivity, instead of hours logged at the office.
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