Nerissa Vallo, who recently graduated cum laude, said her study was motivated by the critical need to maximise employee productivity.
Her study, “The Impact of Working Hours on Employee Productivity: Case Study of Sabertek”, compared the productivity of blue-collar employees working a standard 40-hour week with those working more than 40 hours at a manufacturing facility.
“The findings were conclusive that working longer than 40 hours per week affects productivity,” said Vallo.
She added that many manufacturing organisations were struggling to meet weekly production targets within short time constraints.
“This is due to high customer demand but insufficient capacity of resources. Therefore, workers are expected to work longer hours per week. Working longer hours leads to fatigue, stress and possible health issues for the workers in the long run and this can affect their levels of productivity,” said Vallo.
The study makes an important contribution to both scholarly and work practices and the topic is timely given the current debates on the minimum wage, hours of work and productivity.
“My study focused only on blue-collar workers within a manufacturing environment. There is an opportunity for future research, to focus on white-collar workers within the corporate sector,” she said.
Vallo said her interest in this area was sparked by a need to understand how the number of working hours of South African employees affected their productivity, especially in comparison with European and Asian countries.
“Many European countries work fewer standard hours per week than South Africa, while employees in Asia work up to 50 standard hours per week.”
Research from international studies shows that a shorter working week would make people happier and more productive.
A New Zealand company, which conducted a trial on a four-day work week last year, adopted the policy after the trial yielded positive results.