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American Workers Laboring Longer

July 24, 2008
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A study by the International Labour Organization estimates that one in five workers around the world -- over 600 million people -- are still working more than 48 hours a week, often merely to make ends meet.

The study, Working Time Around the World: Trends in working hours, laws and policies in a global comparative perspective says an estimated 22% of the global workforce, or 614.2 million workers, are working "excessively" long hours.

In America, 18% of workers put in more than 48 hours a week, the survey found, which was the fifth-highest percentage among developed countries. The United Kingdom was first, with just over 25% of workers exceeding 48 hours a week, followed by Israel, Australia, and Switzerland.

Reasons for the long work hours included workers’ simple need to make ends meet, as well as and the widespread use of overtime by employers in an effort to increase their business's output under conditions of low productivity.

Workers might also simply want to show their loyalty to the company, boost their own chances of success and promotion, and improve their job security during difficult and uncertain economic times.

So how does one stay motivated and energized throughout such a long work week? Large amounts of coffee would help, I imagine. Although the World Trade Organisation’s chief, Pascal Lamy, recently gave his staff some unusual advice for sustaining themselves through long work hours and negotiating sessions: eat bananas.

According to a Reuters report, he urged staffers to eat a high-energy diet including bread and bananas to stay energized.

Are you working longer hours than you were five years ago? How do you stay motivated and energized while working long hours? Leave us a comment!


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