College of Law and Management Studies

The critical need to maximise employee productivity prompted Master of Business Administration cum laude graduate Ms Nerissa Vallo to research the link between the number of hours worked by blue collar employees and the corresponding impact on their output.

The study titled: The Impact of Working Hours on Employee Productivity: Case Study of Sabertek, was supervised by Dr Pfano Mashau.

It compared the productivity of employees working a standard 40-hour week with those working more than 40 hours to explore how the number of working hours impacts on productivity.

‘Many manufacturing organisations try to ensure they meet weekly production targets. However, at times this might not be possible. 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 possibly affect their levels of productivity,’ said Vallo.

‘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 such as banks, for example to look into how the long working hours affect corporate workers. Many white-collar workers complain about the number of hours they work and its possible impact on their productivity and overall lifestyle. Due to the time constraints, I was unable to factor in the white-collar workers of the organisation in this research, but this would be interesting to explore in future studies.’

According to Vallo, her interest in this area was sparked by the need to understand how the number of working hours of South African employees affects their productivity especially when factoring in working times in comparison to European and Asian countries. Many European countries work fewer standard hours per week than South Africa, while Asian country employees can work up to 50 standard hours per week.

‘The study makes an important contribution to both scholarly and work practices. The topic is timely given the current debates on minimum wage, hours of work and productivity. The findings were conclusive that working longer than 40 hours per week will affect productivity,’ said Vallo.

As part of growing her research portfolio, Vallo presented this research at the 5th Business Management Conference last year and is currently working on a journal article.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Rogan Ward