Employee Appreciation Day is March 3 and Americans work an average of 1,791 hours per year, much more than individuals who live in other industrialized countries.
WalletHub released its report on 2023’s Hardest Working Cities in America, and three Virginia cities worked their way onto the list.
The personal finance website compared 116 largest cities across 11 key metrics. Data includes employment rate, average hours worked per week and the share of workers with multiple jobs.
The hardest working city in the U.S. is San Franscisco, followed by Anchorage, Irving, Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C. Norfolk is no. 7, Nashville is no. 11, Chesapeake, Va. is no. 13 and Fort Worth is no. 19.
Highlights of the report include the fact that Irving, Texas has the lowest share of households where no adults work at 11.04 percent, which is 3.7 times lower than in Detroit, where the highest percentage is at 40.57.
The longest average commute is 41.40 minutes in New York City, 2.8 times longer than 15 minutes in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
According to Peter Cappelli, a professor and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, we hope that working more hours means higher productivity, but we also know that more skilled individuals can do the same work in less time.
“A less competent employee spending more time on a task is not more productive than a more competent one spending less time on it. Lots of factors can impact the relationship between time worked and actual performance,” Cappelli said.
Dr. Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, a professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, said this varies by worker and job, but studies show more than 55 hours per week creates less, not more productivity.
“Productivity studies done to maximize war production during WWII showed this result, and more recent studies continue to confirm it. Employers and workers who work longer than this think they are increasing production because they continue to get things done, but in the long-run productivity is greatest with regular breaks and recreation,” Dau-Schmidt said.
Research points to an increase in the average workday length in recent years, and Michael Z. Green, professor and director of Workplace Law Program at Texas A&M University School of Law, said that the line between work and home blurred because of growing demands with work and advanced technology.
“Employees were and are increasingly being expected to check and respond to emails and texts even during off-work hours. Certain businesses allowed and even expected employees to bring their own devices and smartphones to work and use them to perform their work duties. This merges personal and off-duty activities as you are using the same device to engage in these activities. COVID likely exacerbated this blurring by expanding the virtual workplace and creating new workplace terms such as virtual platform fatigue. The shift from a 40-hour workweek to almost a 24-hour-a-day setting, at least for some days of that workweek, is mostly due to technological innovations in my opinion. These technical developments have made it easier for workers to turn on their own devices while at home or off duty and respond to electronic communications. They can open their laptops or tablets to spend more hours working when they would have been functioning in a structural office setting mostly over a 40-hour workday before the technical advancements that now play such a role in how employees perform their work duties,” Green said.
Dau-Schmidt also mentioned technology.
“It is very hard to draw a line between work and leisure when the internet allows many people to work, and makes them available to co-workers, at almost any hour of the day. Another factor in the lengthening of the work week has been the rise in inequality that has accompanied the information age. As productivity increased in the first half of the twentieth century, we saw the average workday decrease from 10 or more hours to eight. However, even though productivity has continued to rise since 1980, most of that increase in wealth has gone to the upper class and working people have felt more and more pressure to work hard to try to keep up. Increased income and wealth inequality is forcing workers to want long hours to try to ensure that their families maintain their relative place in the standard of living,” Dau-Schmidt said.
What policies should governments and firms adopt to improve the quality of life of American workers?
“Enforcing current laws would help. For example, many workers should not be treated as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act — in other words, simply shifting someone to a salaried job title if their actual work does not change much is a misclassification,” Cappelli said.
Dau-Schmidt said to start with paid parental leave and longer paid vacations, as well as overtime and holiday premiums.
“As American workers rediscovered during the pandemic, time with children, spouses and loved ones is what makes life and work worthwhile. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave and our norm of two weeks of paid vacation is half the European standard. In China, workers get triple time if they work on a national holiday, and they have a lot of national holidays. Wouldn’t it be great for retail workers to get to spend holidays with their families? Or, at least be compensated very well if they are required to work?” Dau-Schmidt said.