Long Hours are Not Necessarily Productive Hours
The inconsistencies here speak for themselves. Perhaps Mexico - which ranks first in hours worked, last in GPD growth at just $20.5 per hour worked, and guarantees just six federally-mandated paid days - raises the most questions about overworked employees and economic productivity.
In Norway, which ranks third-lowest of all 37 countries for hours worked in 2017 (an average of 1,408 or 27.1 hours per week), workers generated $72.2 towards GDP per hour worked - the third-highest on the list.
Some countries are actively aware of these inconsistencies, and are taking steps to decrease hours while increasing productivity. South Koreans, accustomed to a culture of long workweeks, logged an average of 2,024 hours (or 38.9 hours a week) in 2017, but churned out just $36.6 per hour worked to the GDP. Earlier this year, the National Assembly passed legislation which cut the maximum hours down from 68 to 52.
Workers in Japan didn't work quite as many hours (1,710 or 32.9 hours a week), but rank similarly on GDP growth at $46.9. On the backdrop of an aging and shrinking workforce, and with support from the government, many businesses in Japan have adopted the phrase hatarakikata kaikaku or "work style reform", which hopes to build a culture around work-life balance and cut down on overtime. For instance, employers might turn the lights off in the office at a certain time to tell workers that it's time to leave.
A Question of Purpose
The economics behind hours worked and GDP growth are fascinating, but this data raises a lot of questions about how folks, in whichever industry and country they are employed, can maximize their productivity. Even more importantly, how does the full-time landscape and this economic picture impact our sense of purpose? In the modern war for talent, it's never been more important for employees to find a higher calling - whether that has money signs around it or not.
Looking for a job that takes care of you with equitable pay and allows you to contribute to a bigger picture? Know your worth.