Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Working To Live, Or Living To Work?

A friend sent me an article published in last month's Christian Science Monitor, which details the number of hours people are working in today's business society. One of the things that most struck me were these comments:

"In a January study...half of white collar workers state they work over 40 hours a week. Three-quarters of those in that group do some work on weekends because of an increased work load. 42% of all workers say they work more hours than 5 years ago."

The days of working 9 to 5 ended in the 1950's. I don't have figures to back it up, but I'm willing to bet that the number of one-income families was around 75% in the 1950's, and less than 20% today.

People are working harder for less. That becomes a management issue - your issue - if you aren't cognizant of that fact. So - how do you manage this issue?

1. Recognize people are working harder, and make sure your employees know that you appreciate their efforts. I used to work for a top executive. On Friday evenings, around 6pm, he'd make an appearance in our work area, see me there and say, "Take the rest of the weekend off." We'd both laugh, but I appreciated him knowing I was working as hard as I could.
2. Frequently get feedback from them - what can you do, if anything, to alleviate some of their workload? Short of doing their work for them, there are ways to remove obstacles that they will appreciate.
3. Make sure your priorities are straight - that means the people who work for you. It's easy to get caught up in the everyday management duties and forget you have people working hard. Watch them - give them feedback on how to be more efficient in their job.
4. I had a boss who told every new employee the same thing: "We want our employees to have a great personal life - because if their personal life is great, then their work live will also be great." He wanted his team to work as hard as possible between 7:30 and 5 - and then go home whenever possible to ensure that great personal life.

Are you following these guidelines in an era where people are desperately trying to work to live, and not just living to work?