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How Limiting Work Hours Can Greatly Improve Your Business

In the internet age, the race for efficiency has increased ten-fold among many of the world’s top businesses. Oftentimes, it seems that breaking down barriers between your employees’ home and work lives will bolster their efficiency and create a new era of production and results for your company…but this is rarely the case.

In fact, a study was recently conducted into national productivity statistics and the results were shocking; one of the starkest differences was found between Germany and Greece. The study found that German workers worked nearly six hundred few hours than their Greek counterparts annually yet were approximately 70% more productive.

The numbers may seem faulty, but they bear out a fact of the modern world which some businesses are struggling to grasp – working more hours rarely correlates to being more productive. Though this may seem paradoxical, it’s good news for a number of reasons. Here are three reasons why setting fewer working hours for employees is likely to lead to a boost in their productivity.

  • All employees need resting time as it’s crucial to increase productivity in the long run
  • Long work hours directly correlate to fracturing mental and physical health
  • Burnout occurs if the work-life balanced is thrown into chaos, which leads to high turnover.

Resting Time is Crucial for Efficient Working Life

Many employers who want to increase working hours don’t realize they may be working their employees into the ground. Not only does this decision breed resentment and destroy morale around the office, there are many negative effects on the lives of individual employees.

Employees who work extended hours miss out on a large, significant swath of their life, from leisure and relaxing time, to family events and professional development.

Most people lie to themselves, assuring themselves that the increase in work hours currently will free up a larger chunk of time down the road for their families and their own mental health. This is usually a falsity, as employers who overwork their employees will always find something new for them to do down the road, something else which will use valuable time and further deteriorate the worker-employer relationship.

The only way to stop overworking yourself or your employees is to break the habit entirely; change the work culture so that’s it’s okay to take a break now and again from the hectic pace of the job and other work functions.

Much like overworking a muscle, you may believe that you’re simply making it stronger more quickly, but in reality, the muscle is weakening, unable to keep up with the load many obsessed with working out are putting on it.

Elite athletes aren’t training 24/7. They know firsthand the importance of giving their muscles time to recover so that they can keep up their high level of endurance and athleticism. Overworking may feel productive at first, but you’ll soon see negative results creep into your workflow.

Mental and Physical Health Deteriorate

Stress is the primary source of most physical and mental illnesses in the modern era. The pressure to keep up with job and family life is crushing to most people, and they experience many negative outcomes as a result, including chronic anxiety and nervous breakdowns.

Those who don’t wish to slow down and push themselves well beyond their breaking point are most susceptible to stress-related illnesses, including fatigue and a weakened immune system.

Stress has also been shown to cause a decreased libido, high blood pressure, tension headaches, and digestive problems. The solution to decrease stress is to decrease workloads and time spent in the office; it’s paradoxical, but decreased work will decrease stress in the lives of workers and make them more eager to perform during hours when they are in the office.

Many employees and employers retreat to chemical treatments such as antacids and other prescription medications, but these solutions do nothing to mitigate the root of the problem.

Reducing stress will reduce the likelihood and occurrence of many painful maladies, such as acid reflux disease and panic attacks, yet workers do not take the necessary steps to reduce the pressure they feel in the course of their daily lives.

Overworking can be stopped, but it takes a clear, consistent drive to do so. The key is to be resolute, to take control of your own circumstances and commit to bettering your mental and physical health.

Overworking Leads to Burnout

When employees are overworked, their job satisfaction decreases significantly. This in turn can lead to burn out and the feeling that what they do is not worth their time or effort. This revelation – which is preventable with a decrease in work time – is usually responsible for high turnover rate within a company.

When employees reach a stage of absolute fatigue, they have far less qualms about decreasing their productivity and the quality of their work. Even the most engaged, aspiring worker can quickly lose focus of his ambitions if his job overwhelms him, leading to a total reversal in attitude.

It happens every day, to a large swath of the overworked population. It should be obvious, but excessive work hours do not provide greater job satisfaction. In fact, they’re the number one cause of burnout, as too much of a good thing can become stale and rote faster than many imagine.

Yale recently released a study which showed employees with higher working hours experience both more passion for their job but also far more burnout. Frustrations over these employees’ level of stress routinely causes them to search for other avenues of work and career opportunities. Although the pattern has been long established in the modern world, high stress and high job satisfaction can be decoupled.

Final thoughts

Investment doesn’t have to come with the condition of short-term satisfaction and long-term burnout. The key to decreasing burnout, to feeling more fulfilled and relaxed with the work employees are doing, is to reduce work hours and bolster the work-life balance in American life as a whole.


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