Less Hours Worked, More Productivity?


The Law Of…Finding The Right Work-Life Balance

Figures from the Trades Congress Union (TUC) show that one in eight employees work more than a 48-hour work week. Many believe working extra hours is the key to success, but some companies are challenging this concept. 

David Hession, Employment Law Associate, comments on some recent research findings.

A Culture Of Overworking?

Under the Working Time Regulations most workers should not have to work more than 48 hours a week. Despite this, many workers feel there is a culture of overworking in the UK, with one in four employees blaming work as the primary cause of poor mental health.

Working these long hours can have an adverse impact on a worker’s health and may lead to reduced efficiency at work.

Is There Another Way?

Marei Wollersberger, company director at Normally Design, thinks so. She said that while some "super heroes of our time" choose to work as much as 90 hours plus in a week, this may not be the best approach for maximising productivity and achieving success.

At Normally Design, rather than push hard for results with extra hours, staff work a four-day work week instead of five days. Despite this, they are still paid for a traditional five-day work week. At Normally Design a key belief is the company can be just as profitable in fewer working hours, as employees will use this time to work more efficiently.

The idea is based around building a positive work-life balance for employees, who are much more likely to perform when they can sustain healthy home lives.

Ms Wollersberger went on to say: "We've seen people wait for their whole life for the big moment when they retire and then have the luxury to do all of the things you really want to do and fulfil your dreams."

"But we've seen in a few cases that never happens as you get ill or you're older by then."

"Maybe we can just flip that round. Maybe we can take that time and move it forward and give it back to ourselves and our employees."

Is Overworking A Mental Health Issue?

Mental health charity Mind seems to believe there is a connection, stating that poor work-life balance leads to poor mental health in the workplace, costing UK economy up to £100bn per year.

Working additional hours may result in a workforce feeling stressed and demotivated. In some circumstances, this can result in mistakes being made or the work may be lacking in quality.

Are Reduced Hours The Way Forward?

At Pursuit Marketing, a Glasgow based company, 100 staff members have worked a four-day week as part of a successful trial in 2016.

During this trial period, turnover rose from £2.2m to £5. Charted productivity increased by 38% during this period, and eventually settled out at 30%.

Operations director Lorraine Gray said: "The culture in the workplace drives better results, better performance, a happier workforce."

David Comments:

Undoubtedly some jobs may require demanding and excessive hours outside of the traditional 9 to 5 working arrangement. No doubt, many employers will argue that working long hours is a necessity given the nature of a particular role or taking into account the needs of the businesses.

However, employers should strike a balance between productivity and being fair and reasonable as far as their employees are concerned. Employers should also look to foster flexible working arrangements. By having a sensible policy in place, employers can help to balance the needs of their employees against the needs of the business.

Are You Having Issues With Your Working Hours?

If you are an employee or employer and have a query in relation to employee working arrangements, then please do contact one of our Employment Law solicitors for an initial chat.

Contact us today on our freephone line or using our online enquiry form.

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