Time Flies Unless They Know: Relative Performance Information and Overwork
48 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2023
Date Written: April 3, 2023
Prior research suggests that relative performance information can enhance motivation and performance within the scope of what is expected and feasible for workers. However, its impact on workers’ tendency to exceed their work capacities remains largely unknown. To address this gap, we conducted two experiments that investigate the effect of relative performance information on the tendency of workers to engage in overwork, which we define as working at the expense of one’s work capacity. Our findings show that workers are generally inclined to overwork because they lose sight of work time and focus on increasing immediate individual performance. Additionally, we find that sufficiently detailed relative performance information decreases workers’ tendency to overwork. By alerting peers to the occurrence of overwork, it encourages workers to monitor their work time more carefully. These results suggest that, under the right circumstances, relative performance information can improve rather than harm worker well-being and contribute to a more sustainable labor market.
Keywords: relative performance information; experiment; overwork; workforce sustainability; sustainable employment; corporate social responsibility.
JEL Classification: C92, D91, M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation