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Almost three quarters of Americans put in a full day of work over the weekend every month.

A 40-hour work week no longer exists — at least not in America.

That’s what a survey from Enterprise Rent-a-Car is telling us — nearly 7 out of 10 Americans say they put in nine hours of work over the weekend every month. And their bosses expect it.

“This data opened our eyes to the fact that, for many of us, the work week doesn’t really end at the weekend, but spills right into it,” says Enterprise VP Steve Short. “It’s important for people to remember that the weekends are their time to recharge and take a break.”

Most people say they still think about work outside the office, and read and answer their work-related emails over the weekend. Technology — especially smartphones — has made it easier for people to stay constantly connected, which has complicated where we draw the line between our work and social life.

Today, 25 percent of Americans admit to checking their work email at least once per day during their personal time. Even worse, a little over 40 percent say they check their email before work, after work, over the weekends, and on their days off.

Why do Americans work so much?

Americans put in more hours than workers in any other country in the industrialized world.

Most of us work without taking our vacations. We worry when we are away from our jobs, and stress that we are putting extra work on our coworkers, yet other countries work far less than we do. Hard work is deeply rooted in American culture and we are expected to be the hardest working people in the world.

Americans and Europeans worked about the same amount in the early 1970s, but today U.S. workers put in about 25 percent more work hours than Europeans do.

One reason could be Americans feel that the more work they put into their job, the more it will pay off with raises and promotions. We also don’t lose as much of our paycheck to taxes as in European countries. Europeans may feel less incentive to work extra hours.

Too much work stress is bad for you

Striving to be the best is what this country was built on. However, work-related stress is bad for our health — so bad it can kill you, according to a huge review of workplace studies by Stanford researchers.Workplace stress adds up to at least 120,000 deaths per year, and accounts for $190 billion in health care costs.

Job insecurity has increased the odds of reporting poor health by 50 percent, and long work hours have increased mortality rates by nearly 20 percent, the same study found.

“The deaths are comparable to the fourth- and fifth- largest causes of death in the country — heart disease and accidents,” says Stefanos A. Zenios, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “It’s more than deaths from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.”

Maybe Americans should start trying to unplug more over their weekends and keep their minds off the office — at least when they’re not forced to work a weekend shift.

“Spend time with family or friends, go on a leisurely stroll, or get out of town for a couple of nights,” says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert. “No matter what you do, the key is to try to take a break from work and unplug with the time you have.”

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of


employment, office life, productivity, time management

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