Friday, March 16, 2012

Overworking employees is just plain stupid

This article highlights what every worker knows but apparently most managers do not: Overwork doesn't produce more but rather less. And it egregiously harms a company's main asset, its human resources. Even if a company's main goal is profit, it will rise only if it focuses on its people. And every weekly hour worked over 40 is counterproductive and literally kills its main asset.  I know this intimately from my last job, adverse health effects from overwork being a significant reason I left. I chose not to let a job kill me.

Recall the recent Goldman employee who quit due to the obsessive focus on profit at the expense of clients. Inherent to that same culture is worker abuse in the name of maximizing profit through the rationalization of "productivity" and being a "team player," issues dealt with in this article. Excerpts:

"If you’re lucky enough to have a job right now, you’re probably doing everything possible to hold onto it. If the boss asks you to work 50 hours, you work 55. If she asks for 60, you give up weeknights and Saturdays, and work 65.

"Odds are that you’ve been doing this for months, if not years, probably at the expense of your family life, your exercise routine, your diet, your stress levels and your sanity. You’re burned out, tired, achy and utterly forgotten by your spouse, kids and dog. But you push on anyway, because everybody knows that working crazy hours is what it takes to prove that you’re 'passionate' and 'productive' and 'a team player' — the kind of person who might just have a chance to survive the next round of layoffs.

"This is what work looks like now. It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

"It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing.

"Yes, this flies in the face of everything modern management thinks it knows about work. So we need to understand more. How did we get to the 40-hour week in the first place? How did we lose it? And are there compelling bottom-line business reasons that we should bring it back?"

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