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New Research Finding – Working Around the Clock Reduces Motivation Levels

It has now become a norm to work outside your working hours, and the transformation to remote work during the pandemic has made it worse. It is easy to get used to a habit but research has shown that it can lead to a negative effect on one’s motivation. Researchers from Cornell University in New York stated that people are now increasingly working during non-standard work hours which decreases the level of motivation and employees then think of other ways to make better use of their time.

What Did The Researchers Find?

When the team examined the effect of working during holidays and weekends versus working Monday to Friday and how it impacted their intrinsic motivation, they came to a conclusion that this motivation acts as an interest for the employees and the enjoyment they get because of it. This is an important factor of well-being and determination. In addition to this, if an employee works 40 hours a week, this time is what your brain interpreted as your off-time which eventually makes the work less interesting.

Students Were Also a Part of the Study

Students were also a part of this study in order to determine the impact on job satisfaction and focus if they study and work beyond their normal hours.

The research began with Cornell approaching the students who were present at the library on a holiday. They reminded half of the students that they are studying on a holiday while the other half were not reminded of this fact. 15% of the respondents, who were reminded of the holiday, answered that their work is less enjoyable when inquired about their intrinsic motivation for their campus work.

Cornell did the same with the employees as well. 9% of those who received the reminder found work to be less enjoyable if it is a holiday Monday relative to a normal working day.

The last part of the experiment comprised of respondents being inquired on Tuesday, without being reminded that it is a normal workday. They were again inquired on Saturday with some being told that it is a weekend while others being left as it is.

The team came to a conclusion that working during non-standard work time weakens one’s motivation to work by having upward counterfactual thoughts about how they could have spent this time in a better way. It seems that this upward counterfactual thought was the reason behind it. Having the weekend off just like their family and friends is what lowers their motivation. The solution to this could be the introduction of a “weekend shift” so that people can feel they are not the only ones being a part of it.

Work-Life Balance and Burnout

People who feel under pressure to achieve this will struggle to have a work-life balance. Those who are not in power will not be able to do so but managers can create such an environment for their employees.

Research has shown that even when people were working from home during the epidemic that offered greater flexibility in work arrangements, it did not create a better work-life balance and led to greater satisfaction. Instead, it leads to burnout symptoms because employees feared that their jobs were at stake if they did not work enough.

Professor Renata Schoeman, of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP), explained the meaning of burnout in a work context. Burnout is mainly the outcome of an imbalance of resources and demands which is even more fitting than ever because of the limitations of working from home. Working from home is not the same as when working in a well-equipped office with the added pressure of greater expectations. Employees had to shuffle between work, family, and their needs like crazy.

Key Takeaways

Employers think that employees working beyond their work hours are more hard-working, should be paid more, and are more dedicated to work. This is not the reality. They feel less motivated and involved in performing their tasks when they are left with no other choice but to work off the clock to fulfill their work. Employers should introduce a “weekend shift” so that employees don’t feel like they are the only ones working extra hours and completing their tasks with the same motivation and dedication. If your employer is forcing you to work around the clock, have a word with your human resource department to find ways to ease off the work pressure.

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