Stop working long hours

Please stop working long hours, nights & weekends

By Karl Smith

You have them in your office. We all do.

They work crazy hours during the week and work nights, weekends and during their vacation to boot. And they make sure you know about it.

As a leader, I have always gone out of my way to let my team know that that sort of behavior is not impressive, nor is it expected. Not that there aren’t times when you have to work well past the end of a typical 8-hour day. Not that there aren’t times when you have to crack open the laptop on the weekend. But on a day to day, week to week basis, that sort of thing shouldn’t be expected.

And lately, it seems other people are starting to see the light.

At the beginning of September, in preparation for Labor Day, Jena McGregor offered up a piece with this straightforward headline: Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

McGregor tees off with some of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s over-the-top views on being “strategic” with things like when you use the bathroom and, God help us, sleep, but hammers it home with, well, some facts.

Research, time and time again, shows the problems with overwork — on people’s health, on turnover, on absenteeism, on productivity. Studies have shown that after about 50 hours a week, productivity decreases, and it plummets after 55 hours, leaving no detectable difference between those who work 56 hours and those who work 70 — or 130, as Mayer suggested may be needed for successful startups.

McGregor’s piece was a follow-up to an article that explained those long hours are bad for you in a lot of ways. Again, the facts bear that out.

So why do people do it? To pump up their self-worth? To try to get people to work harder? The truth is, every one of these folks probably has a somewhat unique set of reasons. And they shouldn’t be the ones who identify the problem. People working these crazy hours aren’t helping you, or your organization, so it’s up to their organization’s leadership to recognize this for the symptom it is and get to the real underlying problem, then solve it.


Karl Smith writes frequently about leadership. His posts can be found on LinkedIn.