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Working Overtime?

29 Nov 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 29 Nov 2021 00:09:40
Working Overtime?

Working overtime rarely correlates to more productivity. Here's a breakdown of the most recent data – and tips for achieving a proper work-life balance. Research has consistently found that countries where working overtime is common don't necessarily achieve higher productivity rates per employee per hour. According to 2021 reports, the U.S. ranks 11th in terms of productivity per employee per hour. A healthy work-life balance can enhance productivity, and many household-name companies and smaller businesses offer creative work schedules.This article is for business owners and managers interested in boosting productivity without mandating overtime.

Working overtime or long hours does not necessarily equate to increased productivity, according to 2021 research from the B2B marketplace Expert Market.

Researchers came to their conclusions after examining the workforces of 42 countries around the world. Specifically, they determined each country's productivity level by dividing the annual gross domestic product (GDP) – the value of all the goods and services produced within each country over a year – by the average number of hours full-time and part-time employees worked over a year.

How working overtime affects – and doesn't affect – productivity

Overall, the US ranked 11th worldwide in productivity. Based on 1,767 total hours worked in 2020, American employees produced an average of $36.94 per person per hour.

But that's not even 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 1,427 total hours and producing $84.77 per person per hour. 

According to the study, all 10 of the countries that ranked ahead of the U.S. have employees who work fewer hours each year than US employees. For example, Germany has the fewest annual working hours at 1,331.7, yet still produces $41.97 per person per hour. On the flip side, of the countries included in the study, employees in Mexico and Costa Rica work the most hours each year – 2,124 hours and 1,913.2 hours, respectively, yet they rank the worst in productivity. Mexican employees produce just $9.63 per person per hour, while Costa Rican employees produce $11.01 per hour.

What the experts say

Expert Market published a similar study in 2016. At that time, Michael Horrocks, 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 organisations when they are happier, so in this instance, what’s good for the individual is also what’s good for business.”