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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Working Overtime? Longer Hours Won't Make You More Productive

Working Overtime? Longer Hours Won't Make You More Productive
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Working long hours does not necessarily equate to increased productivity, found new research from the B2B marketplace Expert Market.

Researchers came to their conclusions after examining the workforces of 35 countries around the world. Specifically, they determined each country's level of productivity by dividing the annual gross domestic product (GDP) — the value of all of the goods and services produced within each country over a year — by the average number of hours worked by both full-time and part-time employees in a five-day workweek.

Overall, the U.S. ranked eighth worldwide in terms of productivity. Based on the average workweek of 34.4 hours, American employees produce an average of $31.19 per hour and $214.59 per week.

But that's only about half of what employees in Luxembourg churn out. Employees in the small European country (which borders France, Germany and Belgium) topped this year's list, with employees working 31.6 hours each week and producing $60.26 per hour and $381 per week. [See Related Story: Want to Boost Employee Productivity? Offer an Incentive]

The study revealed that all seven of the countries that were ranked ahead of the U.S. have employees who work fewer hours each year than employees in the United States. For example, Germany has the shortest average workweek, at 26 hours, yet still produces $34.21 per hour.

On the flip side, of the countries included in the study, employees in Mexico and Costa Rica work the most hours each week — 42.85 hours and 42.65 hours, respectively, yet they rank the worst in productivity. Mexicans produce just $7.85 per hour, while Costa Rican employees produce $6.99 per hour.

Michael Horrocks, a publishing manager at Expert Market, said the research proves that hours spent in the office do not equate to business success and that chaining your workers to their desks doesn't benefit anyone.

"Hopefully, this means that the culture of presenteeism will be a thing of the past and we will see a more flexible and balanced approach to work in the future," Horrocks said in a statement. "Employees are clearly more beneficial to organizations when they are happier, so in this instance, what's good for the individual is also what's good for business."

The top 10 countries in the study in terms of productivity were:

  1. Luxembourg – hours worked per week: 31.6; hourly productivity: $60.26
  2. Norway – hours worked: 27.4; hourly productivity: $47.93
  3. Australia – hours worked: 32; hourly productivity: $39.30
  4. Switzerland – hours worked: 30.15; hourly productivity: $39.30
  5. Netherlands – hours worked: 27.4; hourly productivity: $34.53
  6. Germany – hours worked: 26.4; hourly productivity: $34.21
  7. Denmark – hours worked: 27.6; hourly productivity: $31.82
  8. United States – hours worked: 34.4; hourly productivity: $31.19
  9. Ireland – hours worked: 35; hourly productivity: $30.47
  10. Sweden – hours worked: 30.9; hourly productivity: $29.77

The countries ranking in the bottom 10 were Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Latvia, Russia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and Estonia.

Many studies suggest that longer hours in the office decreases productivity due to employee stress and burnout, and experts advise taking breaks and time away from work. Check out this Business News Daily article for more tips on decreasing workplace stress.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.