Why are you working more than 40 hours a week?

I’ve got this rather strange theory about the average work week and it goes something like this – there is no good reason at all to work more than 40 hours – there it is, short and sweet. Do you agree or disagree?

In my opinion the only reason for working more than a 40 hour week is one of the following

1. You’re incompetent and not really able to do the job expected of you. In this case you should get training or resign.

2. You are competent but not a very effective delegator. In this case you need to trust people more and delegate the work more effectively.

3. The job is actually bigger than one person is capable of doing. In this case you need to renegotiate your job description.

So which one is it?

Remember that people and organisations fought long and hard to get a 40 hour work week. They knew it was important for individuals, families and the whole society that people had some time away from work.

Take a look at your employment contract – I’m sure its going to say very clearly that you are paid a certain amount for a certain role and it probably specifies somewhere between 35 and 40 hours a week on average (if it doesn’t then it should – slavery has been abolished you know). There may be short periods where you may have to put in a few extra hours but you should keep track of them and take them off at a time in the future to go relax with your family and friends.

By working long hours you are not working your best during the time you are supposed to be there. You will be tired and inattentive, so really your employer should fire you for not performing your best – ironic huh? This soon becomes a health and safety issue, not only for your own health but also your colleagues. Do you trust a person who works long hours to make the best decisions?

And keep in mind that every extra hour you work during the day past 8 hours has a rapidly increasing diminishing return – that last hour you put in between 8pm and 9pm probably generated 15 minutes of actual work.

Additionally, working long hours does not do you any favours personally. You will be less healthy and happy. You may be saying that one day you will stop but that day may come and go several times before poor physical and mental health, failed relationships, or a sad old age creep up on you. You don’t need me to remind you that no one ever said they wish they spent more time in the office as their last words. Last time I checked in the self-help section of a book store I didn’t see the book called ‘How to work long hours and be healthy’.

Finally, if you are a leader in your workplace you need to lead by example. So work sensible hours, lead a balanced life, and let your followers or team members do the same.

Long work hours aren’t a badge of honour, they are a mark of stupidity.