In the United States, overworking can be a badge of honor, proof of your dedication and passion. Even for those that do stick to a 40-hour work week, chances are they’re also freelancing or working on side projects. As in a recent article in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki explains:
Thirty years ago, the best-paid workers in the U.S. were much less likely to work long days than low-paid workers were. By 2006, the best paid were twice as likely to work long hours as the poorly paid, and the trend seems to be accelerating. A 2008 Harvard Business School survey of a thousand professionals found that ninety-four per cent worked fifty hours or more a week, and almost half worked in excess of sixty-five hours a week. Overwork has become a credential of prosperity.
And, as Surowiecki goes on to point out, this seems hypocritical considering the common knowledge today that working too many hours has a detrimental affect on business.
The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.
So why are businesses still pressuring for long hours? Three words: economics and habits. And with technology making us all available 24/7, it becomes a snowball effect where no one — not the worker, not the boss, nor the company, wins.
Read the rest here.