The result of a study issued in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper showed that people over the age of 40 performed best at work when they worked three days a week. Does this mean that they could work less efficiently if otherwise?
According to this Australian study, researchers tried to analyze the cognitive abilities of older workers. For this, 3000 men and 3500 women took part in the test. The effectiveness of cognitive abilities, such as abstract reasoning, memory and executive reasoning were measured in the participants. The results showed that they performed better when they worked 25 hours per week compared to when they worked 55 hours per week.
Causes for Reduced Performance
Fatigue and stress were determined to be the likely cause for the participants losing their effectiveness. According to one of the lead authors, Professor Colin Mckenzie, the level of intellectual stimulation depends on the working hours. As much as work stimulates brain activity, it also causes fatigue and stress – resulting in drastic impact on cognitive function
How Does Working Hours Affect the Brain?
Working more than 30 hours in a week appears to have a negative impact on the mental health of a middle-aged man. As Prof. Mckenzie claims, working 40 hours per week is effective for keeping the cognitive functions normal, but it doesn’t provide maximum positive effects on the work. However, they did state that results in the Australian study may be different in other countries. There may be other factors besides stress and fatigue affecting effectiveness but isolating the controlling factors contributing to the result of the study was difficult.
Contributing factors may include: does the type of work matter? Is working full time or part-time? What if the work requires more intelligence? According to Mckenzie, all these factors are difficult to isolate to determine their contribution to the level of performance. It is difficult to identify the common effects of the type of job you do and how it relates to the cognitive function of the brain. As a result, people tend to choose jobs based on their cognitive abilities.
It is important that you pick the job that you desire, and that this work makes you happy. This will ensure that stress and fatigue are limited. It is also obvious that as workers age, they cannot be working the same number of hours as they did in their younger days.
Nevertheless, more research and study are required to provide a more assertive conclusion. For now, do the work that makes you happy – your performance will make your employers happy too.