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Working Less Does Not Make Employees Happier

Update Date: Aug 23, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

Depending on one's career, working can either be stimulating and fun or dull and boring. Despite the differences in job functions, a recent study published in Financial Services Review found that people who worked over time might experience a reduction in their wellbeing. Similarly, other studies have found that working too many hours can lead to too much stress, which is detrimental to health. In a new study, however, researchers found that working less also did not make employees any happier, suggesting that a good balance between work and play must be achieved in order to remain happy and healthy in the workforce.

For this study headed by Robert Rudolf, a researcher from Korea University located in Seoul, the research team focused on the effects of working hours on people's wellbeing. South Korea recently started the new Five-Day Working Policy. This new policy cut the number of work hours from 44 to 40 per week by eliminating Saturday as a workday. In this study, the researchers examined the results gathered by a comprehensive national survey titled "The Korean Labor and Income Panel Survey." This survey was administered to urban households between the years 1998 and 2008.

Based from the results, the researchers found that men and women did not have a greater quality of life due to the policy that cut working hours. The researchers noted that women were more likely to report that they liked the measure. The researchers believe that women liked having a few hours extra out of the workplace since they are generally the ones that must deal with balancing work-home activities and responsibilities. However, the researchers reasoned that less working hours did not lead to better life quality because fewer hours meant cramping work into a shorter time span, resulting in more levels of stress.

Even though people might not have felt happier with shorter work hours, the researchers believe that a lot has to do with the type of job. For example, people who work with numbers must focus on details. The likelihood for them to take leisurely breaks might be extremely low. On the other hand, people in more creative jobs have more leeway with time crunches and breaks.

The study was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies

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