I recently read an article in Inc. Magazine about a company that does not allow its employees to work more than 40 hours per week, and will actually penalize them if they choose to ignore the rule.
When I first read the headline, I figured this was just another case of a cash-flush tech company trying to be hip and cool, or throwing out crazy perks in an attempt to attract talent.
But as I read the article, the reasoning put forth by the owners made perfect sense. They argued that working yourself or your workers to the bone actually does more harm than good. Overworked employees are at a greater risk of heart disease, are more likely to abuse alcohol, productivity declines as a result of job stress, and extended loss of sleep can be equivalent to having a 0.1 blood alcohol level.
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This article was really interesting to me because the topic of hours worked by me and my employees seems to always be on my mind. Often times I fall into the trap of equating long hours worked with a person’s dedication to their job, or thinking that the more you work the more successful your company will be.
Wood shop owners fall into this line of thinking all the time. We tell ourselves that 60-70 hours weeks is what we signed up for and that it is the price of success, when, in all actuality, it is often times the exact opposite of that. The quality of the hours we, or our employees, work is far more important that the quantity of hours. There are many reasons we choose, or are forced, to work for what seems like an eternity, but at the heart of the matter is to determine why long hours seem to be a fact of life for so many shop owners.
The natural fluctuation of the sales cycle is one of the most frustrating aspects of running a small business, and is the main reason my employees and I end up putting in long days and weekends. One month you are slammed with work, working 12-hour days, 7 days a week just to keep up with the demand, and three months later, your shop is empty, the phone has stopped ringing, and you are pulling your hair out in frustration.
If this scenario is a regular occurrence, then you need to take a look at your selling strategies. Maybe it is time to focus on acquiring new customers or diversifying your product offerings. But even successful businesses deal with flush times and lean times. I’ve come to learn that these short-term explosions in sales are a fact of life and have taken steps to deal with them rather than shake my fists at the heavens.
In my next blog I will detail some of the strategies we’re starting to implement.