Most offices have work martyrs, a unique tribe of employees who work long hours and take pride in looking tired and weary. Many workplaces actually encourage work martyrs by creating an expectation of employees that they have to put in extra hours to prove their mettle. This culture of working long hours is deeply ingrained to the point where employees feel guilty about working regular hours, and end up opting for a longer day, working even through lunch and breaks.

Studies on this modern practice of working long hours reveal that it is unhealthy for the employee and unproductive for the company in the long run. Australian employees would do well to listen to Bertrand Russell’s ideas when it comes to work strategies, and simply work less so as to accomplish more. According to the English philosopher, in a better managed society, the average person would only need to work four hours per day.

An article titled, ‘Proof that you should get a life’, published in The Economist puts forth the idea that longer work hours reduce productivity. British economist John Hicks believes that output per hour falls when working longer hours because workers progressively lose energy and become less productive.

Stanford University provides a detailed and neat explanation of declines in productivity associated with long work days. It finds the declines are attributable to individual employees being less efficient due to stress, fatigue and other factors, or productivity levels slowly declining over the course of a long day, and even going into a negative zone as mistakes are made by weary hands.

A study conducted by Ford Motor Company over twenty years ago showed that for every additional 20 hours of work above the recommended 40 hours, an increase in productivity is noticed only for three to four weeks before productivity actually turns negative.

More recent Dutch research suggests employees do not benefit greatly from working longer hours than their peers, and extra hours in fact, negatively impact quality of life.

Company managements are constantly looking to introduce the right balance at the workplace to boost productivity and yield competitive gains without compromising the health or quality of life of their employees.

The Labour Costing solution from Mitrefinch enables managers and supervisors to plan tasks across multiple cost centres, compare planned tasks and budgets with outcomes, and track projects by hours, quantity, or cost. Analysing unique insights from planning and tracking projects can help companies determine strategies that work best for their business.