I recently finished reading, and enjoying greatly, the memoir Shoe Dog, of Phil Knight, co-founder and CEO of Nike (thanks for the recommendation, Peter).
I am sure you won’t be surprised to know that Knight worked incredibly hard, along with many other original and early-days Nike employees, to build a profitable business. Knight put in many long days, weeks, months and years in order to help Nike firstly survive then thrive.
This is a familiar story contained in the memoirs and speeches of entrepreneurs the world over; the long hours necessary to make their dream come true.
Although these hours are the necessary ingredient for entrepreneurs, what about normal employees? When it’s not your business yet you still care about doing a good job and making a contribution to the overall company’s success; where’s the balance between working hard enough to deliver great results yet not burn yourself, or your direct reports, out?
This is a subject I have become increasingly interested in as I review my own productivity, both when I was an employee (as a recruiter) and now that I am running my own business (mostly from my home office, 30 minutes’ drive from my sole employee, who works from her home).
The results of a recent company trail of a six hour work day in Sweden have been so conclusive that the rest of the country’s employers appear to be taking note;
- Banned staff from any form of social media during work hours
- Reduced the number of meetings to the absolute minimum
Unfortunately it appears that in Australia we appear to be heading in the other direction with a report from November 2014 noting that on average Australian employees are undertaking approximately six
hours per week of unpaid overtime.
Professional services firm EY have taken a substantial interest in this topic by publishing The EY Australian Productivity Pulse.
Here’s what EY reported:
I also was an active member of a Toastmasters Club which met fortnightly at 6.15pm on a Tuesday. As a regular participant in speech competitions I was often at another Toastmasters event or meeting each week.
As a keen SCUBA diver I regularly went diving on a weekend, often going away to my favourite location, Jervis Bay, for a couple of nights on a live-aboard.
I was able to be highly productivity at work by not working past 6pm and having a full life of sport and recreation outside of work. Both of these things kept me physically and mentally fit and fresh.
The recruitment industry is one with a high turnover and burn-out rate. One of the most important things owners and leaders can do is focus on productivity rather than hours in the office.
Maybe a six hour work day for recruiters is an attainable goal …… by 2050.