Edited excerpt from The Neuroscience of Recruiting: 3 Key Discoveries & Implications by Geoffrey James:
Conventional business wisdom is that there’s a positive correlation between long work hours and employee productivity.
Instead, the opposite is true. It’s now known that long work hours reduce creativity by decreasing the amount of waking hours when the mind is at rest.
Furthermore, numerous studies show long work hours create workplace stress, which in turn causes health problems that negatively affects employee performance. Rather than getting more done, employees get sick more frequently and make more mistakes, which then requires extra work to fix.
Ironically, the false economy of long work hours was scientifically proven 100 years ago, when the Ford Motor Company discovered through extensive testing that the ideal work schedule was 40 hours a week. Those studies showed that working additional hours produces a temporary productivity increase that after four weeks turns into a net productivity decrease.
Today, recruiters tend to view a candidate’s history of working long hours as a positive indicator of commitment. In the future, however, recruiters may need to interpret a history of working long hours as a negative indicator suggesting a lack of balance and a consequent inability to think creatively.
(1) Cf. How to clear time for deep thinking.
(2) Cf. Can you be a great business leader if you’re lazy?