It turns out, 40-40 is not a good equation.
Employees over 40 function better and are more productive working a less than 40-hour work week, according to a new study in the Melbourne Institute’s Working Paper Series.
So what’s the magic number? A three-day work week was best to keep 40-something’s from being burned out.
Researchers from Australia and Japan studied how many hours began to affect the cognitive abilities of 3,500 women and 3,000 men over 40 years old. Participants were made to recite sequences of numbers and read aloud over a period of hours.
“Our findings show that there is a non-linearity in the effect of working hours on cognitive functioning,” the research said. “For working hours up to around 25 hours a week, an increase in working hours has a positive impact on cognitive functioning. However, when working hours exceed 25 hours per week, ann increase in working hours has a negative impact on cognition.”
Bosses are not going to be happy with this news.
The findings were also the same for men and women.
It broke down even more if working 25 hours is not possible—which it commonly is not. If you have to work a 40-hour work week, it’s best not to work over 55 hours per week, because that’s worse for cognitive functioning than not working at all.
“The degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours,” the research reported, also stating that while work stimulates brain activity, it can cause fatigue and stress, which can be damaging.
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