The benefits of work-life balance have been touted for decades. Although recommendations have been largely ignored, there’s been a recent rash of articles about the benefits of a shorter workweek and its impact on productivity. With science pointing to proven results of improved performance when work is kept in perspective, can entrepreneurs and small business owners finally adopt new work habits for themselves?
France recently passed legislation that would reduce the employee workweek from 35 hours to 30 hours. In fact, they limit the workday to 10 hours and adjusted the workday to allow a daily rest period of 11 hours. Additionally, all employees must take a 20-minute break every 6 hours and cannot work more than 4½ hours without a break.
Even Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, called for 3-day work weeks. Although he does propose lengthening the workday to 10-11 hours and raising the retirement age to 70-75, Mr. Slim is convinced that doing so will improve the quality of life.
Granted, these proposals are for employees but shouldn’t small business owners and entrepreneurs who work 12-16 hour days x 7 days a week follow these same guidelines for the same reasons?
Extended Work Hours Create Poor Performance & Additional Cost
It’s no secret how extended work hours influence workplace performance. Studies on workplace performance for employees show that continued overtime produces a decline in productivity.
With a measureable impact on fatigue and morale, extended work hours influence one’s ability to concentrate, foster procrastination, cause work inefficiencies, and further an increase in errors.
The bottom line? Extended work hours result in a lower quality of work product and additional costs to you, your business, and/or your clients!
Limited Work Hours Not Just For Employees
Research shows that productivity begins to drop after 40 hours. Unfortunately, that’s not a statistic meant only for your employees. Work hours extended beyond 40 hours a week — along with the subsequent loss of productivity and increase in errors — pertains equally to the entrepreneur and small business owner.
Consider this — as the owner of a fast moving, growing enterprise would you risk it all, including your health, in hopes of getting an edge on the competition by working longer hours? The truth is — you won’t.
When entrepreneurs extend work hours, creativity wanes, client solutions lack inspiration, errors flourish, and costs rise. Sadly, overwork and exhaustion are worn as a badge of honor in today’s society. That’s unfortunate as such attention only reinforces what is recognizably a bad habit.
Can we all just chill out and become more human? Can you learn to work 40 hours a week while sustaining your growth goals? Is it possible to be a little more like France?
We would love to hear your thoughts…