Are We Working Too Many Hours?

May 1, 2015By
Startup Marketing

Are you expecting too much time from your employees?

Rand Fishkin shared a post on Twitter the other day that was really interesting. It’s a long post, but very interesting. I’ve had to read through it a couple times and I’m still not sure I get all the points in it, but I think I got the basic idea.

The post, Why Some Men Pretend To Work 80-Hour Weeks, touches on the way people work today. It talks about how businesses have come to expect people to be all-in when it comes to their commitment to the job. It’s not a family first world anymore in many cases. It’s work first and everything else a distant second.

And if you’re going to say “no” to certain things like projects and responsibilities you might be opening your own door out of the company. Or you could be simply passed over for future opportunities that you would be interested in.

I’ve thought about this over my professional career and have a few things to say on it. This article just kind of refreshed by brain on the topic.

Here are some thoughts.

Businesses Obviously Appreciate The All-In Mentality

Why wouldn’t a business love the idea of an employee be all-in? You get someone that only thinks about working for you. They’re committed at all hours of the day and week. They’ll work when the competition isn’t working and they’re always available if you need them.

Many, but not all, entrepreneurs kind of find their success being all in. It’s hard to find, however, people that care about your business as much as you. So when you find one you kind of lean on them and over time you lean on them to the max because they bring value to your business.

Even if you know it’s not sustainable in the long run it’s hard to convince yourself to ease up.

But Very Few People Can Be All-In Very Long

It seems pretty common for kids right out of college and school to go all-in with a company. Some companies even have programs like this to test the commitment of new employees and sometimes the idea of being on the road all the time and learning the ropes and making some great cash is appealing to employees.

So it can work out in both cases in some situations, but for many people it’s not sustainable. In the end, all we have is family whatever makeup that family takes on.

We value the relationships we have with our family and those close to us and we seem to value it more than money after a certain point. Once you start getting into family in your late 20s and into your 30s it’s just difficult to stay at work all the time. You get resentful and that’s not good for you, those around you or for your employer.

Can A Business Succeed Without All-In Workers?

And that’s where the perspective of the business comes in. I think it’s tempting for a business to be after the all-in worker. I’ve had instances of that at GBW where a writer seems like Superman or Superwoman. And you kind of lean on them.

But in the long run the work suffers at some point. And you start realizing that it’s better to get really good work from your best workers and reward them and don’t push them to a point where things start to go backwards.

And you have to keep your best people happy. If you push people too far they’ll look for other options and if they’re good they will have other options.

Finding Your Own Way To Be Productive

From a worker’s perspective it’s about being productive in a way that employers value. If you can bring value to your employer then it really shouldn’t matter the hours you put in. Obviously your employer will want you to be a good citizen and example to others so that comes with a few different requirements.

But if you’re a good person and bringing in results it really shouldn’t matter the hours you’re working. But you have to find your own way to be productive. It might be evolving your position beyond what the normal requirements are. It might be figuring out how to do more in less time so you can be happy in life and have time to do the things that make you happy like hobbies and family time.

Entrepreneurs: Getting Past The Idea Of “Hours”

From an entrepreneur or boss perspective it’s really time to get past the idea of hours. It’s more about what your employees can provide in terms of value. Beyond that it doesn’t really matter.

There was an example in that article above about how an employee figured out how to become a “star” in the eyes of the bosses, but he really wasn’t putting in “time”. He was putting in effort and bringing incredible value to the business without his bosses really knowing about his time efforts.

That’s the position I try to take with GBW. If a writer can figure out how to be super efficient with writing it doesn’t affect me. We need quality blog posts. Time doesn’t really matter. In fact, it’s good for me if the writers are happy with what they’re doing and that usually means working on projects they like and being efficient with the work. Then they make money and have time for other things. They’re happy. I’m happy.

Entrepreneurs: Getting Past Biases

There was a note at the end and really throughout about biases. The main was gender bias. And it talked about how in the office when a man would leave at the end of the day that some would commonly think he was going to visit a client. But when woman would leave it was often thought that she was going home to be with family.

Obviously we have to get past biases that aren’t really the case. Yes, you have to use your gut on individuals to get a feel for who the best workers are and how things will work with your company, but gender is not really a good bias to have. It can lead you to leaving out great potential employees while employing some that maybe you shouldn’t.

Final Thoughts

I think we are pushed to work too many hours today. I’m a fan of leaving plenty of time to enjoy life. The more you enjoy life the more you’ll enjoy your work and that leads to more productive work.

You have to recognize that in yourself, but also in your employees. It seems best in the long run for all parties if everybody is as happy as possible. So from the entrepreneur point of view it’s about leaving time for yourself and also giving your employees time.