The American workforce is clocking fewer hours than before the current recession started, mostly because of mass layoffs and shortened work weeks.
And yet, overall productivity hasn’t dropped off, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.
Now that may seem great for business owners and managers riding out the tough times.
But there’s a downside: Maintaining that high a productivity level takes its toll on employees’ health and private lives.
Burning the candle at both ends
American workers already put in more overall hours than any other country.
Research shows that increasing their output often leads to more cases of stress-related burnout. Consider the following:
• Most Americans sleep less than seven hours a night, a trend which leads to increased illness and inability to focus.
• A study by Ernst & Young proved that the more vacation time people took, the more productive they were. And yet, 30% of Americans use less than half their vacation time, often because they feel pressure to be at work.
• Consistently working more than 50 hours a week has been proven to lead to high levels of stress, dissatisfaction and burnout.
So what’s the answer?
For CFOs and controllers, the big key is being an advocate for your people and taking some of the burden off their shoulders when possible.
More importantly, be proactive and keep an eye out for warning signs of stress, burnout, etc.
One idea: Strongly consider offering flex hours (so long as it doesn’t understaff important duties at certain times).
Also: Look at new technology or processes that might cut time-wasters for your staff. For example, online work order programs to better track projects.