Can 40+ Year Old’s Be Productive In Full Time Employment?
Latest research states that up to 30 hours of work per week is the optimal amount for the cognitive function of those in their 40’s. Any further increases in workload become a burden and negatively affect the performance of that person.
That’s according to expert researchers from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.
The team of researchers conducted a study which involved 6,500 people with an almost 50/50 gender split and concluded that those who were working for 55 hours per week or longer suffered the largest decrease in cognitive ability than those who were unemployed or retired.
All of the participants were over the age of 40.
However, not only were their cognitive abilities being monitored, they were also observed to see just how effective they were at work.
This observation involved a test known as Household Income and Labor Dynamics which measures just how capable the participants can read words accurately as well as combining words with numbers and reciting numbers.
Too Much Mental Stimulation?
It seems too much thinking, whereby thinking includes use of memory, effective and abstract thinking has a reverse effect to the retention of cognitive function as we age.
As the aging population of many countries is becoming an increasing issue, and many regions are looking to amend retirement ages and pensions schemes while increasing productivity.
It may be a case that the latter can be affected by implementing a scaled workload; whereby it is appropriate for the persons age for optimal productivity.
There seems to be a common misconception that longer hours working means a boost in productivity.
Working, can, in effect stimulate the brain and improve cognitive function. However, too much can lead to stress related illnesses and exhaustion. This will have a negative impact on cognitive function and productivity.
Is Part-Time Work The Answer?
Mentally, yes, the research suggests that only working part time is the optimal range for those who are over 40 years old.
However, at the age of 40, or at least within the decade many people have increased commitments, be they family or financial.
Can people in their 40’s really afford to work 15+ hours less per week and still enjoy a lifestyle they have either been working towards or are already accustomed to?
Further thought must regarding the job type must also come in to consideration.
One may argue that being a laborer on a construction site is not as mentally taxing as a social worker or someone who is the CEO of a bank.
However, on the other hand that laborer is being more physically challenged on a daily basis.
It is these variables that must be challenged and examined deeply.
One thing to note is that cognitive functions are protected moreso if you are in employment of 40+ hours per week rather than not working at all.
It just means that person who is employed is not necessarily as productive that someone of their age range working fewer hours per week.