By Patricia Sellers
August 20, 2009

It’s hard to believe this is August. Because I’m working way too hard.

You too?

Unless you’re one of the growing multitude out of work–with no job at all–no doubt you are. Here’s evidence of the working-too-hard trend in a new McKinsey study called “Leaders in the Crisis”: Executives are working harder than ever–55 hours per week, vs. 45, on average,  before the global economic crisis began.

McKinsey also suggests that executives aren’t being very smart about how to motivate employees in these trying times. Executives whom they surveyed said they motivate their people mainly by “talking about company’s values and direction” and “talking about company’s financial performance.”

Seriously, how can you inspire when “financial performance” is probably nothing to brag about?

A better way to motivate workers, McKinsey’s consultants suggest, is to help build their skills, publicly recognize high performance, and show interest beyond their work. “Making personal connections and helping managers find meaning in their work” is more important than ever, McKinsey contends.

This onus on executives also makes leading and managing more difficult than ever before. Want advice? Check out yesterday’s Postcards Guest Post, “How to Inspire Your People”, by MediaCom CEO Stephen Allan, who is quite savvy on the subject. Incidentally, after reading the post yesterday, WPP

CEO Martin Sorrell, who is Allan’s boss, emailed me to say that his message is right on.

If you’re really stressed out and working too hard, my best advice is: Do not move to Asia. A study of “Prices and Earnings” in cities across the globe, released by UBS

yesterday, is trove of fascinating stats, and among them: People work 1,902 hours per year, on average, in the cities that UBS surveyed, but they work longest in Asian cities. The average in Asia: 2,119 hours annually. The most onerous work hours, actually, are in Cairo, where employees clock 2,373 hours annually. Seoul comes in a close second.

And who, among global citizens, are smartest in terms of holding a job and keeping short hours? Workers in Lyon and Paris, says the UBS survey. Oh, how I envy the French, especially in August!

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