Working Too Many Hours Can Backfire

Exhausted woman sitting on the floor near couch with her computer on her lap and her head in her hands

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American working hours have progressively increased, but that increase has not necessarily caused workers to increase their output. Nearly 3/4 of U.S. workers routinely put in more than 40 hours per week (Drevits, n.d.). However, employees’ productivity sharply falls after working 50 hours per week. This decrease in productivity is so strong that an employee working 70 hours per week gets no more work done than an employee who works 50 hours per week (Sullivan, 2015). 

Technology, now a mainstay in our society, allows for people to work anywhere and anytime. In fact, access to technology has increased working hours for 47% of employees since supervisors can now communicate with employees past their time physically in the office (Sullivan, 2015). It is important to set boundaries and limit how many working hours are being added to employees’ days and to know what their working hours are, or when they should be expected to respond should members on the same team have varying hours.

At a Glance

  • 86% of men and 67% of women work more than 40 hours per week in the United States 
  • Long hours are associated with higher turnover and absenteeism
  • Technology increases working hours for 47% of employees, as people are always connected
  • Productivity falls after working a 50-hour workweek 
  • Productivity decreases so much that an employee working 70 hours per week will not get any more work done than an employee working 50 hours per week 
  • This is an important reason to be mindful of work-life fit


Drevits, T. (n.d.). The five benefits of workplace fitness culture. Corporate Wellness Magazine.

Sullivan, B. (2015, January 26). Memo to work martyrs: Long hours make you less productive. CNBC. 


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