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Hours Worked and Life Balance Thumbnail

Hours Worked and Life Balance

As we are entering spring break season and summer vacations are right around the corner I wanted to talk about work. Specifically, about the number of hours we all work. I am going to be pulling some information from various sources here. Regardless, it is eye-opening to me.


Let me preface this by saying my typical client is physician seeking a better life balance.  Stuff like this always gets my attention and I figured I would share it.


  • Per a 2014 Gallup poll, Americans worked more hours per week than most developed nations. The number was 47 hours a week. This is more than countries like Germany and Sweden, which average roughly 35 hours. I wonder what this number looks like now in a post-Covid world? Actually, I do not want to know.


  • Let’s talk about vacation time. A 2017 study showed over half of employed Americans left some of their vacation time on the table. The sad thing is we lag most developed countries when it comes to the amount of vacation time available in the first place.


  • Again, comparing ourselves to other developed nations is not pretty. We lead in hours worked at night and weekends. A full quarter of Americans reported working during these periods in addition to a regular workweek. Plus, we are the only developed nation lacking a national policy on vacation time.


  • I am sure your boss would love to say all this work is due to loving your job. Yeah, I am thinking not so much since recent data shows 90% are looking to change jobs.


  • The average executive spends 23 hours a week in meetings. This is up from 10 hours way back in the 1960s.


  • The average white-collar professional spends 21.5 hours a week in meetings. Both of these points certainly seem odd since we have supposedly become so much more productive and efficient.


  • Maybe this helps explain why people work nights and weekends so much. The bulk of the work week is spent in meetings.


  • You don’t even want to see the data with the increased time in Zoom and Teams meetings, which is not shocking.


  • One study estimates unnecessary meetings waste $37 billion in salary annually.


  • Heck, John Maynard Keynes, the great economist, predicted in 1930 that due to growth of wealth and technology advancements “no one would work more than 15 hours a week.” Well, we are nearing a century and I think that is coming right after my flying car appears in my garage.


  • Companies are finally starting to get the message though. They are doing things like cutting meetings and even one went from a planned 90-minute town hall to share some changes to a prerecorded 10-minute video.


I don’t really have a point with what I am sharing. Yet! It is simply data I found interesting. Maybe this is why when I see articles talking about how some employees are hoping to get terminated, I shouldn’t be too surprised.


Oh, and before you start thinking this is a generational thing and the old “back in my day” is running through your head, I hear comments about being burned out from people in their 30s through their 60s. Yes, I know it is because that is my typical client, but it is reality and it is across generations. And I guarantee our parents said it about us too, regardless of how old you are.


I guess I just wanted to share this information. It resonates with me as I work with clients on getting that better life balance.  Stay tuned for more insights and tips on this balance topic.