Once and for all, question the 40 hour work week.

It’s not too late to turn that World War II Era employee production model into a modern and efficient flex system of efficiency that will boost employee productivity, morale, and positive employee retention.

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Get off the hamster treadmill work schedule, just because “everybody else is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea and there isn’t a better way.  After all, didn’t you start your company thinking differently, out of the box?  So, why are you acting like “the box” is the only way to do business.  To hell with convention, do it your way and don’t look for excuses, it could mean the difference between making your company stay unique and keeping its competitive edge or being absorbed by the status quo and the complacency of success.

Small businesses need agile employees with a sense of dedication and commitment

If you expect your employees to be tethered to their smart phones and answer company emails outside of normal business hours and don’t reward them for it, or worse, don’t even acknowledge their extra efforts, you’re asking for problems later.  The fact is, with the proliferation of mobile and remote technology, the best way to handle these “on-demand” employees who make themselves over-accessible is to either reward them for it so they won’t get burned out, or develop the expectation within your company that this is just the status quo and being accessible after normal business hours is just simply expected of them.

If the latter is the case, you should disclose these expectations before you make an offer to hire any employee who may think they’re agreeing to a 40-hour work week office job thinking when they leave for the weekend that they would actual be untethered and be able to enjoy their off time for crazy things like being a parent, fulfilling their other obligations, and pursuing other interests in their lives.  — Or maybe even resting, enjoying their weekend so they’re fresh for the next week of challenges?

So, what’s so magical about the 40 hour, 5 day work week?

Is an hourly employee making the company more money the more time they put in?  This may be the case for manufacturing, but a lot of jobs an employee produces most of their value in the first 10-20 hours they put in, the rest of their time they spend managing their time, managing expectations or playing office politics.  No doubt some of their time is also devoted to ancillary duties that perhaps aren’t even part of their job description but in some way keep the system moving forward.  Manually transferring data, building reports in Microsoft Excel, thinking and writing new outlines and plans related to their job.

Let’s consider two extremes so we can look at labor hours in the context of the company’s return on the investment of the time people spend not just doing their jobs, but fulfilling their obligation of filling up their 40 hour work week.  One person is a mid-level manager who works 45 hours each week and earns a base salary of $62,000 per year.  The other person is the CEO of the company and earns $62 million per year.  Now, at what point do you just not consider someone’s hourly pay and start to consider the actual return on investment for their efforts?  It’s ridiculous to compare these two in the same frame of reference, right?  But why is that?

Are you a manager concerned with results from your employees or just controlling them?

Start appreciating what your employees create for value instead of focusing on an implied obligation of putting in hours.

Does anyone question the CEO’s time they put in compared to the mid-level manager’s?  Perhaps, but that’s an exercise in futility that will only result in perhaps an uncomfortable discussion.  Does what the CEO do really make the company one thousand times more each year than the mid-level manager?  Of course not, after all, most CEOs aren’t on the production line actually doing the physical labor of the business, but that’s comparing measurable time.  What about the intangibles the CEO brings that are measurable only in the context of overall company profits and performance?

A CEO who is an inspiring leader and understands how to turn opportunities into new profit streams while mobilizing, coordinating, and managing the entire organization to achieve some ambitious and future-looking goals is value beyond compare to a task-oriented position where someone is functioning more as just another cog performing duties integral to the entire system.  Still, it’s also hard to discount a mid-level manager’s contributions in this same perspective and not be inclined to perhaps value their contributions more than just based on the tasks they produce on an hourly basis.

Task-Oriented or Results-Oriented Management Environments

In simple terms, in a task-oriented management environment where leaders is focused more on control and keeping tabs of employees’ time instead of results, there’s no doubt a CEO can take a month’s vacation and no one questions his contribution or value, however, the mid-level manager who puts in 50 hours per week and skips vacations always seems to be under some pressure to perform. Generally, employees feel they are being micro-managed and resent being treated like children, incapable of managing their own responsibilities and tasks.

A results-oriented management environment allows leaders and employees to focus their energies not on the processes and tasks, but the actual results and the goals they set out to achieve.

Employees feel that they are being treated more fairly and with more respect.  Guess which management environment has better morale, increased positive employee retention, and overall lower costs associated with lower employee turnover.

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