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Why overworking your employees almost always backfires

By Jonathan Sweet

It's a narrative most people have become all too familiar with during the last several years: more work for fewer people that are getting paid less.

Some business owners considered this a godsend -- "Hey, we can get more done for less money!" The smart ones realized that's not sustainable in the long term, as unhappy employees did poorer quality work and were much more likely to jump ship as soon as a better offer came along.

Employees that work longer hours on a regular basis sleep less, have more health problems and are more likely to have substance abuse problems.

But even if you don't care about the emotional, physical and mental well being of your employees, a growing body of research shows that employees working long hours results in no benefit for most businesses and, in fact, hurts performance.

From a recent Harvard Business Review article:

In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more. ...

I'd recommend clicking through to read more, as well as the supporting research the author cites. It's pretty damning stuff, but it basically boils down to a simple premise: employees that continually work overtime get worse at their jobs, have a greater tendency to make mistakes and are more likely to cost you money.

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