What would it take to get you to work 80 hours per week?

I’ve interviewed a ton of people in my career.  When I ask people what their normal work week looks like – I “often” hear – “Oh, I work 70-80 hrs per week, all the time!”   I instantly know they are lying – because no one works 80 hours per week all the time!  Do you really know what 80 hours per week looks like? Here’s some examples”

  • 16 hours per day – Monday thru Friday – that’s coming in at 6am and not leaving until 10pm – EVERY day.


  • 12 hours per day Monday thru Saturday with an EASY 8 on Sunday.


  • Oh, and by the way, the two above examples must be with paid lunches and breaks.


The only way you work 80 hours per week is if you own the place. How much would I have to pay you to work 80 hours per week?  Would you do it for $10,000 per week? $520K per year?  No you wouldn’t – you would quit after a month or two – now you’re lying to yourself.  Heck – most owners aren’t even willing to work 80 hours per week.  That’s why so many small businesses fail – people underestimate how much it takes to make a business successful!

“Oh, I would work 80 hours per week if I LOVED what I did.”   Really?  You think you would still LOVE it after working 80 hours per week, week after week, month after month, year after year?  I think it’s incredibly awesome when I meet someone who I truly see Loves their job – you know the type – even if they weren’t getting paid, they would be doing what they’re doing.  Unfortunately 99.9% of us aren’t in a position where we can “work” for free – no matter how much we Love it.  We have bills, responsibilities – we don’t have daddy or a spouse paying our way – we have real life.

80 hours per week – now you’re thinking about it, right?  It’s a lot of time to put forth for one part of your life.  How do you get your grocery shopping done? Watch your kids play at school? Get the cat to the vet? Get your haircut? Get your teeth cleaned?  See your therapist?!

As HR Pros we put so much time, effort and thought into building our rewards and recognition systems.  Many of us think we do this so we can get our employees to give us that extra discretionary effort – to work those hours over 40.  To get our employees to want to work 80 hours per week.  Unfortunately, most of us have rewards and recognition to just get our people to do the job they were hired for – not extra.   When this happens – you no longer have a rewards and recognition system – this now becomes part of their full compensation package.  Rewards and Recognition shouldn’t be put in place “to get the job done” – it should be put in place to reward and recognize those who do more.

I know what you’re thinking – “Tim if I could just have a rewards and recognition system that would get my employees to actually work 40 hours, I’d be happy! 80! You’re out of your mind!”  Believe me, I understand, but that’s what we do, or should be doing for our organizations.  Get great talent, keep great talent, find ways to get that great talent to give us everything they’ve got =’s great HR Pro.

So, what would it take to get you to work 80 hours per week?




56 thoughts on “What would it take to get you to work 80 hours per week?

  1. How can we do to have to help each other to change the laws of labor working. Is insane how many families don’t have a life because they have to survive working over 80 hours a week to make ends meet. Then they government complains about why we have so many people on depression medicine or stress or killing each other or others. There is a point that you need to stop. This is like being in a 3 world country as a slaver.
    Plus working so much over time put you over a different tax bracket where they take all the taxes that they can. And because you make so much at the end of the year you have to pay the IRS.

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  4. My husband works 84hrs a week and yes it is brutal and yes he makes the choice to work it. He’s up at 215am arrives home by 5ish. That’s on Sunday too sometimes it’s an easy 8 on Sunday, but it’s not common. Jobs are on time limits and they need to be done. Adding new people onto jobs that know next to nothing just makes the job go on longer to fix their mistakes, not to mention some jobs just don’t have the space for more than a half crew. Yes, new people have to learn, but an advanced job on a time constraint isn’t the place for it. For someone to sit on their computer and think that it’s not real and spend thier time knocking it is infuriating! Especially in construction in the elements and yes that includes the winter and rainy season (that means extra layers of clothing, torn work clothes, worn out steel toe boots and working in wet boots, and the toll it takes on the body, in addition to some office twerp trying to add their 2cents in to make themselves feel like they matter!) how else do you think you have those Naval and coast guard ships, bridges, buildings, and houses! Vacations are fantastic when theres time to take them, hobbies? Forget it! Next time you want to rip on something you know nothing about keep your ignorant speech to yourself. So it’s not for you that’s fine, but you cant write about what you obviously know nothing about!

  5. This article is absurd. I have been working 6-7 day weeks for almost 7 months now. A normal day for me is 7am-8 or 9pm. I have worked as many as 126 in a 7 day span during hurricane relief (my company supplies products that are in need during emergencies) and sleeping in my car at night at the plant. The lack of will power and work ethic shocks me anymore. People think like doesn’t revolve around work, but that’s not true. We work to get money because money rules everything. It’s a capitalist economy and if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, it’s a beautiful thing. That should be the focus of atleast one class in every liberal arts degree path.

  6. I work at a supplier for Honda and we work 7 days a week Monday to Thursday 12hr shifts Friday 9hr shift sat and sunday 8 hrs a day so that’s 73 hrs. My dad has worked there for 23 years and the oil feeder in stamping broke down and they were doing 7days a week at 12hrs everyday because the manually had to feed it. It sucks and people quit everyday. I’m just saying not everyone is lying. Factories are notorious for doing this to employees.

  7. OP is seriously disconnected from the general workforce. In management not only do I work 6-7 days as a standard but we also put in 12 hour shifts for months at a time with the occasional 16 hour double shift.
    I regularly have to keep union employees for mandatory overtime because of call-outs. That is mandatory double shifts (Welcome to America.) I would say a few times a couple of times a week at least.
    The unfortunate part for me is that I do not get paid hourly. It’s the worst feeling.

  8. Lmao I work 14 hour days 26 days straight each month n I’m only 18 it’s not impossible just difficult it’s all about the work ethic which we seem to be sorely lacking if people can’t even imagine working 80 hours a week

  9. I would like to say I have worked 80 hours in a week it is brutal it can be done. 12 hours a day 7 days a week one day off after 14 days.

  10. I work events. We provide decor for upscale parties. An easy week is 6:00 am – 2:00 pm, with a few hours between before the next shift starts; to remove everything we brought for these parties. A lot of nights I only get a few hours rest before the next shift begins. Monday-Saturday this week, I worked 94 hours. If you think that I’M lying, I’ll send you proof of my check.

    I do it because I was homeless at seventeen, for nine months.. and again at nineteen. Couch surfing. I dropped out of high school due to this. I do it because I don’t have the money to go to school, AND be able to survive. I do it because I feel it’s my best option right now. Last year I made $37,000.

    I am the best at what I do.
    I strive for it, and the reason Im the best is because I make the improbable happen every week. I’m underpaid and underappreciated.

    My grandpa used to tell me, “when you think you can’t take another step, you can.”

    I like to think he’s watching over me in the middle of the night, while I’m trying not fall asleep driving, or when I’ve worked so physically hard for 20 hours without a meal, or a nap, that I think I’m going to break down, and cry, and quit.

    I think of what he said.

    I’m responsible for clients deadlines that are worth hundreds of thousands.

    When I make $2000, the company I work for makes $250,000 off of my labor.

    That is the American dream. Unregulated capitolism.

    That money pays the corporate workers a salary more than I make, the people you’re referring to who aren’t willing to work over 40 hours a week, or come in on a saturday.

    I just found this article while researching labor laws. Feel free to contact me.

  11. Just so everyone understands, the poster is talking specifically about white collar jobs. There it is exceedingly rare to actually work 80 hours a week, but a LOT of people pretend like they do. This takes many forms — “working from home”, spending time on reddit/browsing the internet, just thinking or socializing a lot while at work. The culture is totally different, because it’s difficult to replace employee’s with the enough intelligence to engineer a web system or create a mathematical model of the companies attribution, these employee’s are courted — we get generous time off, flexible hours, fairly interesting work which is no way damaging to our bodies, and a lot of our work is just sitting in meetings or talking to our colleagues.

    People with this life STILL complain about being overworked and it’s ridiculous. I make well over six figures as a software engineer working 50 hours a week max at a trendy california tech company and have for ages — this is nearly double the money my father made as a construction worker for damn near close to half the hours.

    So while the OP certainly suffers from white collar myopia, he’s not wrong. A lot of white collar workers pretend to work 80 hours per week and they are almost always lying.

  12. I work 84 hours a week most of the time.7 days per week and 12 hours per day.Because the company I work for will not add extra shifts.if you go to the doctor they count it against you for missing.you do not know what you’re talking about.come to Webasto and find out

  13. I seen this, as I’m browsing opinions on whether I should go back to finish up some more college or continue to work my prime years away. I’m in the oilfield, work a rather dangerous job (explosives & radiation tools) and I average between 170-205hours in a 2week pay period. It’s a way of life here; you learn to live it and love it or you leave it. I’ve seen a ton of people leave over the last 6years. If I had an option to make just half this income and not kill my body then I would leave it. People talk about 80+ work weeks being impossible, but roughnecks do it in the heat of summer/cold of winter, through rain and dust storms, away from their friends and families weeks at a time, and doing work that risks your health and life. Sadly that only brings in $80k for the average male in his first few years- his “proving” period. All the money stays up top to the guys working 9-5 on those fat salaries with all the benefits. With the way we get paid, Uncle Sam keeps 48% of my income to feed those whom sit at home waiting on their handouts. I sleep in cheap hotels, survive off gas station sandwiches, and see my crew more then my wife. I don’t make $10,000 a week and I still show up. Otherwise I’m look at $35,000 a year, living in debt, never owning a thing I possess, and wondering if my government handouts are on their way or not. The average income for where I live is $34k, so I make a fine living; but it’s a spit in the face compared to the sacrifices. The biggest fit I have are those who do more then me and still live in that poverty- teachers, soldiers, firefighters, & eat. They work the hours & also endure life threatening risks and make nothing to live on. I know what your thoughts are- teachers aren’t at risk: however, between violent youth & school shootings, they’re the only ones who face risks they can’t predict. The whole system is screwed up, society is a joke. If you play golf all week & are the public face you make millions, but if you’re the one who sweats and bleeds for the company then we only pay you minimum wage….. All the blue collar workers who own their possessions all work 80+hours weekly cause that’s they only way to do such.

  14. My dad works 2 full time jobs.. That’s 80hours a week.. He’s been doing it for 10years how do you think he feels?

    • Kyle –

      My guess is he feels tired and sick of working two full time jobs. I’m not talking about people like your Dad. I’m talking about people who over inflate the hours they work to look more important and busy than they truly are.


  15. I work 75 to 85 a one week a month n I hate it I’m beat for the next few days 55 on other weeks but I get paid lunch sand time and half but Uncle Sam rapes me takes out 400 to 600 a week

    • But I also do side jobs when I get them so I’m working a lot until I get my masters and I can chill back a little I do plumbing and gas. So I’m on call and you never no when you will get a call. This winter I got slammed with work due to lines freezing ppl not having water busted mains

  16. Try working 84 hours a week. 7 12 hour shifts with 3 days of rest and then on for another 7. With a 5 mile walk each way stuck on to it. Boom fucker.

  17. I read a few comments below and I realized some people enjoy being slaves. No problem. I am hiring in US. Minimum 80 hour weeks with median salary in US (no hourly pay here). You will docked pay if you work less. No breaks. One McDonald’s Happy meal per day provided. Send me your resumes. Prefer unmarried people. People with families need too much time off…
    Free market at its best. :-))
    Join the Army you idiots. You could work 24/7 there not just 80 hour weeks.

  18. Whoa, such derision from someone who didn’t research this topic very deeply! The author seems to live in an ivory tower of people as privileged as he is. While focusing on people like him, he forgot that not everyone works all of their hours at a single place of employment, works M-F, or has the luxury of working only a job she or he “loves”. Those people don’t exist in the fantasy world of the author, who really should be ashamed of his arrogance and ignorance.

    I work 80 hrs plus, weekly. 40 hrs from 5am to 1:30, and 40 hrs from 2:30 to 11:00. My lunches are unpaid. I live within walking distance of both jobs. I get home by 11:30pm. The next morning I’m up at 3:45 am. Why do I do this? I was laid off and despite a masters degree I couldn’t land permanent work, or a job with health benefits, for three years. Unpaid debts, including a student loan I’ll never pay off in my lifetime, built up.

    Currently my hours are Monday through Friday, though I’ll add Saturdays for the overtime. (The optimal schedule would be one job Monday – Friday and the second, Tuesday through Saturday, affording extra sleep before work.) I try to take a half day off my longest-held job once a week to make up for lost sleep. I can deal better with working Monday – Saturday on the second job when I get that additional sleep.

    I automate bill payments, use work breaks for personal phone calls, and use PTO for appointments. I connect with friends and family via email and social media. As long as I’m paying down debts and current living expenses, I don’t have much of a personal life. I’m working hard now to ensure a more enjoyable future.

    Just because something is difficult and unpleasant doesn’t mean it can’t be done. People in other countries are industrious due to need- we see this diligence in our hardworking immigrants. USA-born Americans have it relatively easier, so many of us can’t imagine an 80 hr workweek. As you illustrate, the more fortunate amongst us can’t see past their own privilege to comprehend the lives of others.

  19. There are people that work 80 hour weeks. That’s life. Some people, myself included, have financial responsibilities. It’s not that big of a deal. And no, a person does not burn out. That is a myth.

  20. I’ve been working 80 hours a week for nearly 6 months now. I work 2;30pm to 10:30pm at one job followed by 11pm to 7am at my 2nd job. My jobs are fairly easy so work isn’t really taxing.

  21. You are a horrible HR rep. The people you hire must quit rather quickly because you apparently have no idea how to do your job. I work 7 am until 10 pm Monday through Saturday without a break of any kind. The company buys lunch and we eat it at our desk while still working. No smoke breaks, nothing. Is it illegal? Probably. No one says anything because there are such a limited amount of jobs in this area. Is it good money? About 30k a year, so no. Is it miserable? Yes. I hate the job so it’s like living with an abusive spouse considering I have no time at home. Mater of fact, my wife left me and took my kids because I was never there and someone moved in on the opportunity. I work to pay child support now. Before you start calling people liars you need to get off your high horse and live in the real world for a few days. You sir, are an idiot.

  22. I work 85-95 hrs a week.. Been doing for two straight years now. No breaks, open every holiday and haven’t had a day off in over a year. I have a small percentage and work for a relative. It’s miserable and you have no life. I don’t recommend it to anyone to work 7 days and holidays with no vacations or breaks. To the people that do, i feel ya trust me. I work 1 12am mon-fri, sat and sunday open and close 6am till 12am. Then somedays come n even earlier for others or when short handed. Can’t wait till i have my own business completely and get a lil more rest hopefully. Moral of the story, stay n school and u won’t have to work 85-95 hrs a week to b wealthy or live comfortable, wish i did. God bless the hard working people, hope it pays off for all of us…

  23. I work 85-95 hrs a week.. Been doing for two straight years now. No breaks, open every holiday and haven’t had a day off in over a year. I have a small percentage and work for a relative. It’s miserable and you have no life. I don’t recommend it to anyone to work 7 days and holidays with no vacations or breaks. To the people that do, i feel ya trust me. I work 1 12am mon-fri, sat and sunday open and close 6am till 12am. Then somedays come n even earlier for others or when short handed. Can’t wait till i have my own business completely and get a lil more rest hopefully. Moral of the story, stay n school and u won’t have to work 85-95 hrs a week to b wealthy or live Re, wish i did. God

  24. I work 74 hours a week. Monday through Friday 2pm-2am, Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm. Everyone where I work works that many hours, many are working over 85 a week. I work in a factory making airplane parts. Would you like the name of the company, address, and phone number? Since I am lying?

  25. Lol paid lunchbreak. I worked 80 hours a week for a good 12 years. 7am-ish to 7 or 8pm-ish Mon-Sat and 8-10 hours on Sunday, just for the hell of it. Coming up to EOY report time I would be doing 100 weeks for a month. All that for 55 thousand pounds (UK). But it is either that, or not work. And I wouldn’t have a paid lunch break. I tended to either go down to the cafeteria 2 floors down and bring food back to my desk and work through lunch, or get someone to get food for me, no breaks, unless you call meetings breaks – sometimes they had biscuits! I’ve given up on corporate life, taken a sea change and now work part-time. I actually came across this article as I was looking for some case studies to show to my current employer who runs her own business and works 70 hours a week. She thinks she is the only person who does this and cries foul whenever someone says anything about it. I just want to show her that there are millions of Small Business Owners in the exact same position, who work the same sort of hours etc.

  26. As the chef of a restaurant I do not own I am working 75-80 hrs a week every week for 30k a year. My pregnant wife works 40 hrs a week at this restaurant as a bar tender.
    Since we a child on the way and am afraid to venture into another field or job because I have security here but I am miserable and my life is completely consumed by work. I’m not lying about how much I work. This is my life and it totally sucks.

  27. Just because you don’t work 80 hrs a week Mr. HR blog writer, doesn’t mean others don’t and are lying. Try working out in the oilfields. We work 90-110 hrs a week routinely

  28. For me, it is 11 AM to 11 PM everyday. Even though I am not working every second that I am there, but it is 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yeah, I am related to a small business owner.

  29. I work 80 to 85 hours per week, 7 days a week, including every holiday other than christmas…its the life of a florida farmer, you never get a break…and ya i make about $1100 per week before taxes, so I have no idea what you are talking about

  30. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  31. I have work 80 hours a week for the last 6 years, the only times i have not is when I am on holiday. If you think I am a liar then fair enough but here is my breakdown of my working week.
    10am til 10pm monday thru saturday 12pm til 8pm on a Sunday. I do this every week without fail so to call someone a liar for it is beyond me.

  32. Inspite of you callin me a liar, I will post the fact that I have been working 80 to 90 hours a week for the past 3 months. 8to4:30 at 1st job and 5 to 11 or 12 on the second along with 8 to 9 on Sat and Sun. Sucks but the money is nice.

  33. Are you kidding me? I will work 100 hours a week if you pay be $500k/year. I’m sure loads of people would do it.

    I run my own company and I work from 7 days a week. I don’t count how many hours but any time that I’m not eating or sleeping is for working.

  34. I am required to work 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday with a half hour break but I actually work 7 am to midnight M-F. I take two fifteen minute breaks per day (2-2:15pm and 7:30-7:45pm). I am salaried and do not get paid overtime. During my busy time (Budget prep Sept-Dec) and fiscal year-end prep (June-July), I work Saturday and Sunday too from 8-12 hours each of those days.
    I stated that I am required to work 8-4 but I’m expected to get more work done than I can manage to complete with the hours I do work. My situation is not unique. It is very common in municipalties and school districts.
    I obviously chose the wrong profession but I’m offended by Mr. Sackett’s comments that anyone who claims to 80 hours per week is a liar.

  35. I currently working 12 hr days mon – fri 5a – 5p, Sat 5a – 4p, Sun 5a – 1p. 57 consecutive days and counting. Goin to end up doin 88 days before vacation. 40 hrs reg pay, 31 hrs ot, 8 hr double, each week.

  36. Guess you haven’t done much construction work!
    I did a project last winter were we worked from 5 am to 11 pm six days a week for three awful months.

    Yeah – showers/meals were skipped, had to pay the hotel lady to wash my rags – I simply had no time.

    We ate when there was a few mins when you were waiting on rigging or a VLF test. The boss would bring us out food sometimes.

    I’ve done 5-6 rush projects like that, and others that are 40 hours a week..

    Even when I did concrete for a living, we’d work 5 15’s and a 12, then work every other Sunday till winter time.

  37. I work 80 hrs a week every week. I have two full time jobs. One in the morning and then right after work I go to my second job. I mostly work 5am until midnight. I have a family who Im supporting. This was my choice to work this much. I am a welder so my work is very hard long hours daily. Im trying to support my family, myself, buy a house and pay off all my debt. Lets face it…The only way I can do all of this is to work this much. The monthly checks are very nice but boy am I a tired guy!

  38. Hire the right people. Yea, that’s right. Recruit people for whom the work is the reward. Ask people what they love to do v. what they’ve done. And trust people to make decisions about how best to be successful with their work and fulfilled with all areas of their life. That’s recognition. Instead of wasting time trying get things out of people, why not ask them what they want out of life?

    And if you’re an entrepreneur, then your focus should NEVER be on hours worked, but rather on CONNECTING with customers/clients. Loving what you do + having freedom to do it as YOU wish kinda takes the stank outta the grind.

  39. It would take a full lobotomy and powerful medication. 🙂 You’re right. There’s not much of anything I would want to do for 80 hours/week.

    I guess if I were asked that in an interview though, I would reply, “It depends. First, can we review the hours-to-value matrix the organization uses to determine the relationship between the hours spent on work and the measurable value it provides?”

    Or, “If I deliver the same results in half the time, does my work decrease in value? How do you measure and promote efficiency and effectiveness in this organization?”

  40. It’s definitely possible to work more than 80 hours a week. My mother works approximately 14 hours a day six days a week. When I was a teenager and had school breaks, I would work the same hours. It made me realize that I would only do that when I was grown if I were paid very, very well.

  41. Great post. I agree with Marc’s comment. I’m a business owner that’s always worked 80+ hours a week (basically if I’m awake, I’m working) but there is NO WAY I would work that many hours for someone else — in a typical work environment where there is sludge, timekeeping, micomanaging, meetings, committees and politics that waste my time and ability to work at my best when I’m at my best.

    Go ROWE!

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