Accountemps Survey: Employee Output is Weakest Late in the Day

MENLO PARK, CA, Aug. 17, 2010 -- If you're constantly battling the afternoon slowdown at work, take heart: You're not alone. A new Accountemps survey of senior managers confirms the late afternoon is the most common time for workers to hit a wall. Thirty-seven percent of managers surveyed said 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the least productive time of day for employees. Coming in second was 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as cited by 28 percent of respondents.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.  

Managers were asked, "In general, what is the least productive time of day for employees?" Their responses:

8 a.m. to 10 a.m. 10%
10 a.m. to noon 4%
Noon to 2 p.m. 19%
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 28%
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 37%
Don't know    2%
"All professionals experience lulls in productivity, but the late afternoon, in particular, may not be a good time to hold brainstorming sessions or take on highly challenging projects," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "High-performing individuals are typically attuned to their most productive times of the day and, when possible, schedule their critical tasks during those hours."

Accountemps offers five tips to help professionals avoid the afternoon slump and maximize productivity:

  1. Plan ahead. Don't push challenging projects off until the end of the day, when your energy may wane. Use your less-energetic periods to catch up on more routine tasks, such as responding to e-mails and reading industry publications.
  2. Get out and smell the roses. If you feel your energy beginning to dip, stretch or take a short walk to recharge. Try eating your meals or holding afternoon meetings outside.
  3. Eat well. Remember to make time for lunch and nutritious snacks throughout your workday. Avoid high-carb foods, which can cause you to crash later.
  4. Track goals. Keep a to-do list to remain focused, and ensure it's visible on your desk so you can check items off as they're completed. There's nothing more motivating than making progress on your projects.
  5. Switch gears. If you're struggling to focus, take a quick break and research something new. Changing tasks can help increase your productivity late in the day.

Accountemps has more than 350 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow Accountemps for workplace news at

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