Does working longer hours make you less productive?

Spending more hours on a task means that you’ll do a better job, right..? 

A new study of 35 countries has shown that countries where people work longer hours are not necessarily the most efficient. In some cases, working longer hours is lowering productivity. Read on to find out the countries that are the most and least efficient, and the amount of hours they work per week.

The rankings

The OECD has released its latest productivity statistics and the results may seem quite surprising. Productivity was calculated by dividing each country’s GDP by the average hours worked annually by all employed citizens.

Least efficient countries

Mexico is ranked as the least efficient out of the 35 countries surveyed. Surprisingly though, Mexicans work for an average of 41.2 hours a week.

A close contender for the least efficient country was Chile, which ranked at number 33. Again, citizens here work relatively long hours, averaging 38.2 hours a week.

Most efficient countries

At the other end of the scale is Luxembourg. This tiny country comes top as the most efficient. Here, citizens only work for an average of 29 hours a week. That’s under 6 hours a day, far less than in Mexico and Chile.

Overall, Denmark was ranked 6th for efficiency. Here, people work even fewer hours than in Luxembourg: just 27.2 hours.

Germany also ranked highly for efficiency, coming in at 8th place. What’s interesting is that this country has the lowest average working hours. German employees spend a mere 26.3 hours working per week.

Long hours and the effect on your health

It has been scientifically proven that working longer hours can cause health issues.

When we work more hours we can find ourselves with less time to exercise, sleep and eat well. Working too many hours can cause a number of health issues meaning that workers are more likely to take time off for sickness, ultimately reducing their productivity.

Such issues include a disrupted sleep pattern, symptoms of depression and at worst can even lead to burnout.

Less really is more

You might be wondering how working longer hours can lower productivity? Well, having too much time for a task stops you from being under pressure. It’s true that if you give yourself 8 hours to do a 2 hour task, you will probably end up taking 8 hours to do it. Countries like Mexico seem to have this problem!

Another reason is that you will probably start making more mistakes in your work if you are exhausted from working long hours. Correcting errors is a big time waster and yet again, it’s not productive.

The choice is yours

So, if you are keen to maintain a healthy work-life balance, Luxembourg, Denmark and Germany should definitely be your top choices. And the best news? It may even benefit your health!


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