Mumbai: When there is less of something, it has always had a premium tag. Researchers Silvia Bellezza and Anat Keinan at Harvard Business School and Neeru Paharia of McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, extend the same theory to people and the time they spend at work.
“When a person is viewed as busy, people may infer that she is a scarce resource, highly sought after, in constant demand, and for that reason, may be of higher status and financially more well-off,” say the authors.
However, in reality, there is no link between long hours and salaries if you look at US labour statistics, they add.
In ancient Greek and Roman times, a free man had only contempt for work while slaves performed tasks of labour. Economist John Maynard Keynes in 1930 predicted a 15-hour week by 2030, an end to the human struggle to survive, and time to enjoy “the hour and the day virtuously and well”.
Even recent research on happiness and well-being offers a similar perspective, where the desire to earn more is driven by a belief that greater income will allow for less work and more leisure time, say the authors.
However, in contrast to that thinking, busy-ness has become a greater status symbol as it suggests that the person is in demand and therefore scarce, point out the researchers.
The authors also believe that being busy is seen as more aspirational than a more leisurely lifestyle. This is because low-wage workers must work long hours and cannot afford leisure time to make ends meet, whereas high-wage workers may choose to work long hours and skip leisure time, which elevates them to a higher status, say the authors.