Proof: Long Hours Don't Pay

Last Updated Jun 13, 2008 2:16 PM EDT

Nearly 20 years ago, organisational behaviour expert Charles Handy predicted the rise of the 'shamrock' organisation, where non-core competencies would be contracted out and employees would be an elite and hard-working core. Sound familiar?

He also predicted how little time those in the high-pressure core would have for "walking in each other's worlds".

"The learning organisation must therefore make it an organisational responsibility to push people into those other worlds lest it be afflicted with a severe case of endemic group-think," writes Handy in 'The Age of Unreason'.
But we're not listening, are we? So with all the fuss around long hours and the backlash from those who want to be left to work as hard as they please, a (not very scientific) test seems in order.

Take the top five nations in IMD's World Competitiveness ranking 2008

  • US
  • Singapore
  • HK
  • Switzerland
  • Luxembourg
Now compare with Forbes's top five hardest working nations.
  • South Korea -- GDP per capita $24,600
  • Greece -- GDP per capita $30,500
  • Czech Republic -- GDP per capita $24,400
  • Hungary -- GDP per capita $19,500
  • Poland -- GDP per capita $16,200
They don't match, do they?

Long hours: they're not big, they're not clever, and they're not competitive.