Putting in 'Man Hours': The Real Reason Men Work More

Putting in 'Man Hours': The Real Reason Men Work More

Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, right?

Well, when it comes to the workplace, men might be taking measuring themselves against their peers a little too far.

So says a new report from the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market, which studied how male workers compare themselves against their colleagues.

The bottom line? This competitive sprit could actually explain why many men end up burning the midnight oil at the office.

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According to the study, male employees tend to feel happier when they think they're clocking in more hours than their coworkers—regardless of how many hours they really worked.

Simply put, saying that they were busy—or better yet, busier than their officemates—increased their feeling of status in the workplace. Authors of the study are dubbing this phenomenon "conspicuous work."

On the other hand, those who thought they were less busy than their peers felt they were losing office status—and were found to be unhappier overall.

The problem is, while workers may think they're happier, those longer days likely don't actually benefit employees—or even the company.

"Employees who start working very long hours could set a reference that would be followed by a large number of others—with possibly detrimental consequences for health and other outcomes," Marion Collewet, one of the study authors, told CNBC.

Meanwhile, other research finds that putting in longer hours can actually negatively affect a company's productivity—not to mention wreak havoc on sleep schedules.

Interestingly though, this competitive overworking doesn't apply to everyone in the office.

The study noted that women tend to be less affected overall by the habits of their peers—and found no pattern of "conspicuous work" among female employees.

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