Shared publicly  - 
"It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous, and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul."

In Germany, 40 hour work weeks and 5-6 weeks of annual paid vacation time are the norm. Yet this does not seem to have hurt our economy...
Kristjan Cocev's profile photoEsty Thomas's profile photoRanjeet Kumar's profile photoLaura Gibbs's profile photo
Even with the shorter work hours these days a lot of professional people take work home with them. And often have no choice but to be on call many more hours after work.
There is a big difference between long hours of work because of poverty or greed, and long hours of work because you like it.
Few people have jobs where they genuinely like everything about them. Even the awesome jobs - and I count my current jobs among them - have their fair share of tedium. If there was no tedium I could probably work longer without loss of productivity, but as things stand I am glad that I do have breaks.
30 hours a week would be more than enough...
Hell, if corporations weren't such disorganized entities, we'd achieve the same productivity with merely 16h a week.
Most of the times I feel like I'm going in circles... and all because of other people's disorganization!
No one I know who is wealthier and better off than me works less than 40 hours week. I have a friend who had a 10 year goal of earnign 1 million dollars in one year. This was in the early days of internet marketing. He worked close to 60 hours a day, sometimes working all night to further his business. He eventually sold his business and ideas for $950,000. He is now 37 and stays at home with his family and has zero financial worries. So to say working 40 hours a week or less is a recipe for success makes you sound weak and frankly, stupid.
Working more than 40 hours for your own success is one thing. Making others work more than 40 hours for your own success is another, and usually contraproductive.
we work 9 hour days monday through thursday. fridays alternate between 8 hours and zero hours. so every 2 weeks we're putting in 80 hours. the 9 hour days do suck but the 3 day weekends are nice. i'm not sure how it affects productivity. the main idea is to cut commute costs by 10%.
+Jam Bra Working 60 hours a day is a seriously long time, I couldn't do that if I wanted to.
I would image many people in those situations slack off at work and burn at least 2 hours doing no work at all.
Some of you might find this report interesting:
It puts some of the stats into perspective, particularly that although US workers put in more hours than the OECD average, the proportion of people working 'very long hours' (50+ per week) is not the highest (that's the UK) and isn't that much greater than the other countries near it.
Yeah, and that was a huge step backward. But then again, every bad practice from the USA (almost never the good ones) is imported to Germany sooner or later, by all-too-eager helpers.
Plus, sometimes when people are told to work over 40 hours a week they get over time (time and a half) and many people I know WANT that. Even so, if they do not get overtime pay, usually it isnt GREED fueling the push to work more, its just poor management. Not everyone in a management position knows how to manage people and time. (Just speaking from US perspective.)
A funny story: in the 1960's TV cartoon show "The Jetsons", George is fired by an efficiency expert hired by Mr. Spacely. A co-worker comments as he packs u his desk. At least you are leaving before the big change happens. George replies: Yea, the nerve of that guy; putting us back on a 3 day work week !
All of the comments I've read come from "first world" economies, I wonder what people in Asia and Latin America have to say.
As far as I know, nobody working less that the regular 40 hours a week makes a decent living here in Mexico.
+Rosendo Arizpe: That's because workers in poorer nations are considered a lot more discardible. You work them until they burn out because there are always more of them.

This is not a model that's sustainable for first world economies, especially not for those with declining populations.
+Jürgen Hubert "Poorer nations"? It is also a very common practice in North America: The U.S.A. and Canada have increasing unemployment, and those who have jobs are worked to the maximum. The 'bottom line' is not just profits, it's also GREED.
+Elton Woo: I do consider the USA to be a poorer nation, overall, than Germany. Sure, per-capita GDP may be higher, but I think the average citizen is worse off.

And turning the USA into a nation with widespread poverty does seem to be the goal of parts of the political and economic establishment...
I have averaged 60 hours a week for the last 6 months. I did not "slack" as I work with ID individuals and am needed most of the time. Yes the 20 extra hours a week made for good paychecks, but no way of enjoying it. We finally have enough staff to cut weeks down to 40. I like the time off but the money sucks. Win or lose it is all the same to us service workers.
I'm in a salaried position, but I cut it off at 40 hours. There are times when things just need to be done, so there are some weeks where I'll work 50, 60 or even more hours, but this is not the norm. I will say it is easy to work over 40 hours because I love what I do for a living...when you like what you do, it doesn't matter how many hours you put in.
I would like to see a study on how much Overtime is costing us, both in lost productivity and increased health costs.
yes, no work for anyone, just fake money (american way)
In most of my jobs I've worked around 60 hours per week. My last job included a 50-hour/week mandatory minimum (with no opportunity for overtime pay) and gave a whopping 2 days paid vacation after a one-year anniversary. A week paid vacation could be awarded after something like 10 years. I was paying around $300/month out of pocket for benefits. This is not uncommon at all in the US. I don't have a link, but there is a visual going around which shows the number of hours needed to work at minimum wage in the US in order to afford decent shelter. All around the US we're looking at 60-90 hours per week. This doesn't take into account healthcare or transportation. In short, we can barely afford (physically, mentally) to work such long hours, but we literally can't afford not to. 
Let's not forget there are a lot of people out there who work more than 40 hours a week, often having two jobs and are still struggling. Not everyone who works over 40 is raking in the big bucks.
+John Burdin: Germany seems to do reasonably well in this regard - certainly better than most developed nations. Certainly, the cooperation between the government, companies, and unions seems to function for the most part, leading to the current situation here.
+John Burdin I agree with what you are saying, but there IS a case to be made for NOT overworking individuals. When on call 24/7 and doing the jobs that 3 or 4 people did in the past will burn out employees. Sure you can do that in spurts/emergencies but once it is common practice the effort will reduce to do the same work (or less) in the extended period of time. Less is more; even when it comes to labor. Utilization of tools and technology can help bridge the 'loss' of productivity. Hell, I can go into just about ANY company on the Planet and save $100,0000+ in a few days; but few want to take any constructive advise as 'they have always done it this way'! Just visit the 'mail room'; if you have one, there is probably $100,000 waste there, then there is the 'copy room', BAM another $100,000. Electronic transaction processing replaces the paper, labor and overhead (electricity, space, HVAC, equipment rental, etc.). Companies often can't see the forest for the trees.....
I work 40 hours/week at 1 job and 30 hours/week at a second job. I love what I do at both, but I'll have to admit, the time lost with my family does not equal financial benefit!

In fact, we just learned that by me taking a second job, we were bumped into a much higher tax bracket and our tax liability increased by 10%!!! My first job pays very little, but has great insurance and retirement benefits. My second job only grosses 13k$/yr. I have a Master's of Ed Administration and am fully certified for teaching and Ed Admin. I also have a B.A. in Business Management & a B.S. in MIS. My wife has her B.A. in Early childhood development and is a school teacher (something I used to do, but realized it's a very expensive job) and makes the bottom of the pay scale, even with 5 years experience. We make a combined annual that is too much to qualify for tax breaks, but don't make enough to pay our regular bills and have anything to "live" on.

All this to say, going to a 40 hour work week will only work for US citizens if the tax liability were not so high, inflation was much lower, our dependence on foreign oil production were terminated, we abolished the IRS, got Obama and his policies out of office and elected true conservatives into every political office, and a gallon of milk didn't cost as much as a gallon of gas!
Have the Orwellian cops found you yet?
+JD Stewart: I hear that payment for teachers in the USA tends towards the abysmal, so that may be part of the problem. Few people in Germany hold more than one job - in fact, nobody of my acquaintance does (unless you count running your own business on the side, like I do).
+John Burdin: I don't see it as "being owed something", but investing in the future of a society.

I am from a working-class family, but because I was born and raised in Germany I was able to get a good education and a university degree free of debt, and even during my times of unemployment I never fell out of health care, because you don't lose it when you become unemployed in Germany. Now I work as a project manager and have entered the top income decile (though since I only joined it recently, I still lag behind in the wealth department).

Yes, I pay significantly higher taxes than I might have had in the USA - but I am okay with that because the system helped me get where I am now, and as long as younger generations of Germans get the same chances I did I am okay with that. What goes around, comes around.
Production of products to raise the bottom line on a immediateness basis, simply poor planing for the expectation. Glitches in workflow diminish expected or wanted results in production, so the manager increases hours. Even though there is a diminishing efficiency over extended time the final resulting output is the justification. Time is the only thing that can't be controlled and the clock ticks weather the products are completed and shipped or not. The only control over this time issue is to add extended hours and meet the expectation. The products ships later than expected but within a time frame of the expectation. One week ten cars for example, if on Monday the engines are delayed by a day then an additional day is required to get the ten cars off the production line or you will not meet the demands.
+John Burdin Aw boo hoo for you. You expect sympathy? You are complaining about being forced to pay employees even the barest minimum of wages, because it cuts into your bottom line? You thought you were going to do business without having to contribute to society? You act like your employees don't pay any taxes out of their income... "How about we keep more of the money and live in anarchy instead!?" Oh yeah, real great thinker you are.
+David Haley: Crunch times are an occupational hazard of many jobs. But crunch times should not be the norm, or else productivity will decline until the employees are so burnt out that they cause additional delays. For every deadline where employees must work overtime there should be a break in the action when they can recover.
The corporate goal is to have the fewest number of employees possible. They would rather have to pay overtime and risk reduced productivity than to hire an additional worker. If a corporation could get along with no workers, they would be in hog heaven. The bottom line is the only thing that counts to them.
+Charles Garnier: No, the corporate goal is to have a profit. Unfortunately, too many managers seem to hold the notion that firing workers is a great way to increase profits - indeed, quite a lot of consulting companies will affirm that. But all it does is reduce visible short-term costs, while the long-term damage to the company is hidden, and will be the next batch of executives' problem.

A corporation in itself is not a moral actor, either for good and for evil. It is simply a tool - for the owners it is a tool for increasing their wealth, and for society they are tools for creating needed products, generating taxes, and providing employment. Corporations are not inherently good, but it would also be unfair to say that they are inherently evil.
Yes +Jürgen Hubert, that's the one!

I would gladly pay higher taxes if it meant better education, better healthcare, and fair hours and wages for more people. First, I would like our government to be accountable for it's spending. We spend far too much sticking our noses in foreign business and far too little toward making communities healthier. At the same time the position of money within our political structure only proves to play on individual greed and tear down democracy, meaning that personal gain consistently wins over greater good. Essentially, my country has lost integrity. 
Sara H
that is grose
I might add, working as an employer I would rather have had 20 part-time employees than 10 full-time employees. You don't worry about benefits or overtime with part-time employees. That saves big bucks in the end. This would be fine if taxes were equal and individuals/families could enjoy "benefits" through simply being members of society, but this hierarchy of receiving (what I believe to be) human rights for more work has caused an unfair work structure. Not to mention, as the economy struggles more and more people are relying on state/federal aid to get by. Some complain about a welfare state. I complain that ethics simply haven't been followed or taught. 
The Case for a Shorter Working Week

"In 1973, a nationwide coal miners’ strike in Great Britain forced the government to impose an emergency 3-day workweek upon the nation’s economy. The curtailed work schedule lasted for a period of three to four months. When the crisis had ended, economists were startled to learn that industrial production had dropped by only 6%. Improved productivity, combined with a drop in absenteeism, had made up the difference in lost production from the shorter hours."

Quote here:
The part time workforce and no benefits package what a wonderful about a four day work week and nine hours a day, umm 36 hrs and no benefits what a great idea that would be and if they get sick they can come in on Friday to make up the time or get an occurrence. It's the problem...that attitude on the part of an employer that they get a free ride on the backs of their employees.
How about an original idea....a law which states all employers pay every worker's health benefits for every hour worked on a percentage of a full workweek basis. The 20 hr people get 50% paid benefit package....Ya good luck with that, lets just use them and to hell with them..hmm
We shouldn't be talking about the generic amount of work that, on average, is the best or right amount. We should be talking about giving people the freedom to work the amount that's right for them. Personally, I want to work more than 60 hours a week. Some people shouldn't work more than 20. It's about workers in charge, not business or government.
Talk about government. Here in Nebraska make their own rules from Foster parents to fair housing the government. do not care. I KNOW. IM LIVING PROOF
We do this because (at least in the US) we are in an economy that is so profit driven that employers cast the impact to employees aside in the search of $$$$$$$. The condition initially occurred at the beginning of our 'Great Recession', and as is typically the norm, concessions were given by employees just for the ability to work, and now are being taken advantage of as economic conditions improve and employers SLOWLY beginning to rebuild staff. We are no longer a society that takes pride in what we build, or personal responsibility for our actions. We, as employees are now judged by quantity and not quality, not by the value of our commitment to excellence.
+Mike Elgan: Working 60 hours a week is less of a problem for the self-employed, but in most regular jobs if some employees work that long, management will be prone to expecting that everyone works that long and see those who work less than that as "slacking off", no matter what their respective productivity. Look at Japan for an even more extreme example where most employees don't even dare to take their annual vacation days because they are afraid they will be seen as "lazy"...
That number still includes a significant portions of Germans, however. I, for instance, have a 39 hour work week. And I know for a fact that most German employees of Siemens have a 35 hour work week.
Technology in the progressive European states (for lack of a better term), has historically been and will continue to be a commodity that wisely has not been Outsourced, as it has been here. For decades, if not centuries, from construction technology to cutting edge particle physics, these European areas continue to be the dominant contributors to the advancement and dissemination of technologies and information. As such, I would expect that the people that make it happen are an asset, instead of liability. As such, they are treated in a manner consistent with that of a valuable part of the whole. Here, when the 'bean counters' go over their spreadsheets, the first item looked at is revenue, then what their employees COST THEM is typically the second item, allowing them to arrive at the conclusion that if they just did not have so many employees costing them in wages and benefits, they could make more $$$$. It reminds me of the first few lines of a phrase that my late father used to use all the time - 'We the unwilling, led by the unknowing.....'

I fear that any strides made towards becoming a more technologically progressive society here, were set back decades as a result of the greedy financial institutions almost driving the entire global economic system into the toilet, and the subsequent division of the masses along political lines. Is very hard to get anything accomplished when you are a divided nation.
I am currently reading Kevin Phillips' Wealth and Democracy, and he makes the point that after a technologically-enabled growth that brings prosperity to much of a society, it is common that a growth of financial speculation takes over which increases inequality again.
Well, I find that extremely insightful since that is exactly what has transpired on this side of the pond. We have always been to slow to grow and change. We settle in, and whatever works........well it works........if it is not broken, don't try to fix it has been the predominant view of our society for a bit too long now. Not since the days of the New Deal have we (the US) been a proactive society, as being reactive is the easiest road to maintain. I am glad that I am over 50 with an educated daughter who has chosen and is following a productive career path, because I have absolutely NO IDEA what the heck is going to over the next few years or decades for that matter. Ya spend enough time paying attention, and if you are observant you can at least get an idea of where the road you are traveling is going. In this day and age, everything I have learned about life, personal responsibility and the general workings of the financial markets (relationship of currency value to crude oil to the metals market) has been invalidated in one way or another, so the road now becomes a roller coaster ride (with a blind fold on). My dad always used to tell me........."what don't kill ya will only make you stronger", so am figuring by the time I punch my ticket out of here 30 or so years from now, I should be one STRONG S.O.B.... :)
This reminds me of the end of the book "The Dilbert Principle" by Scott Adams. In it he responds to his fans who asked how he would run things if he was in change of a company. He gives the mythical company the name OA5 for one of his key principles. (Out At 5) I think the logic went something like everybody knows that happpy workers are more productive. Workers are happier when they are at home, because if you liked work, they wouldn't have to pay you to be there. So leaving at a reasonalbe hour makes people happy and more productive. I'm sure there was more in there, but those were the points I remembered.
Add a comment...