Return to National productivity measures

Inputs – Labour – Hours of work

  • The UK labour force works comparatively long hours on average compared to most other G7 nations

  • Some argue that people in the UK should work even more hours per year on average – others call this a retrograde step, saying the longer term aim should be to reduce working hours per person

  • Overall, the trend is for less hours of work, at least in an office, as the brainwork era develops – quality of thinking and results, not time inputs whilst under a manager’s thumb, are taking priority

  • A breakdown of G7 working hours shows:

    • USA – work very long hours and take few holidays

    • UK – also work long hours but enjoy long holidays

    • France – work fewer hours and take very long holidays – yet their productivity levels (GDP per hour or per worker) are significantly better than the UK’s

  • This serves to show that hours input is no longer the solution, at least for brainwork – being ‘seen’ late in the office may be thought to help job security but it does little for better quality of work – better outcomes – it’s the law of diminishing returns again

  • Indeed, over all sectors, working more than 50 hours a week has been correlated in a raft of studies with less sleep, less physical activity, higher job dissatisfaction and, ultimately, worse performance – the longer people work, the less the return from each additional hour and the more alienated and disengaged they become

  • Ernst & Young, a consultancy, even showed that the longer the vacation their employees took, the better they performed (up to a point, one presumes) – yet more than half of all Americans fail to take all their vacation days – 30% use less than half










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