60 Hour Weeks? Not Even CLOSE to Worth It.

How many of you work in a corporate office that has a culture where getting ahead requires “playing the game”?   You know what I’m talking about right?  Keeping up appearances.  Showing up early; working late.   While there are probably some out there that are happy to burn the midnight oil our of pure altruistic goodwill towards the company cause, I suspect most are doing it simply to boost their chances at a higher merit increase or bonus.   But here’s my question:  Is it worth it?  Let’s do the math.

Imagine you’re working a corporate job with a respectable middle of the road salary.  Let’s say you make $65,000.  Now once a year, employers typically have a performance review and at the end, you’re rewarded with a merit increase for your efforts.    What some don’t consider is that you have to figure at least 1 to 2% of the merit increase is being eaten by inflation not to mention probably another 1 or 2 being eaten by benefit costs but let’s save that analysis for another time.

Back to our $65,000 middle of the road employee.   

Now first let me let you in on a little secret.  If you’re a fairly low effort mediocre employee as long as you don’t attract too much attention to yourself, you’re still likely to earn around a 2.5% merit increase.  In reality, it’s more like an inflation cost of living adjustment, but the company calls it a merit increase.   Now every company is not exactly the same but based on this graph from hrdailyadvisor.com you would have to be in the top 4 percentile to exceed a 5% increase.    That is to say, statistically speaking,  if you really grind out the hours and put in the extra effort you’re going to have a shot at 5%

2018 Merit Increase distribution
2018 Merit Increases

If we figure that Joe slacker can pull in 2.5% then our dedicated corporate drone making 5% squeezed out an additional 2.5 %.


Let’s break this down:


$65,000 multiplied by an additional 2.5% merit increase for your extra efforts = $1625

This is before tax.   After tax, let’s do some back of the napkin math and say you’ll have an extra $1,200 a year over Joe Slacker.  But what did you have to do to get this?  Let’s say that our dedicated corporate drone came in 30 minutes earlier then he needs to and stays an extra 45 minutes a day to grind out another report,  spreadsheet or powerpoint.  This is an extra 1.25 hours a day.   If our hard worker took a one week vacation a year then he worked around 255 days a year.


255 days of 1.25 hours = 318.75 hours of extra work


If we divide the extra $1,200 in take-home pay by the 318.75 hours of extra work we arrive at


around $3.76 an hour


for those hours they spend grinding out extra work rather than heading home to eat/be with their families/get errands done or..god forbid relax.


In my opinion, you’d be better off just picking up a side hustle or doing some freelance for just a few hours a week.   This also puts you in a better situation should you ever get canned.   I’m just sayin.

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