I thought you should all see some great comments that have come in recently with stories and ideas from all over the world.
I used to work at a company with a strong “overwork?? culture. After two years obsessing about getting in at 7, leaving at 7 (and then working even more from home), my wife had a baby. I took a week off, then felt justified in limiting my work to 40 hours for the next couple of months (due to my lack of sleep and need to help around the house).
In that two-month period I realized I accomplished exactly as much and was exactly as busy as I was when I worked ~60 hours/week. From then on, I was in at 8, out at 5, aside from the occasional large project, and I completely stopped working at home. I was never happier, more organized or more successful in that job.
With this peace of mind and free time, I was able to invest a few hours in learning the GTD system, learning more about my field and getting more involved in professional and community organizations. (This may have averaged about 3 hours/week at the max.) All that I learned in this time enabled me to get a new job and a significantly higher salary.
Meanwhile, when I talk to employees at the old company, they’re bragging about the 75-hour workweeks and discussing which anti-anxiety meds they take.
Great stuff!! Can we please all agree that it’s the results that count, not the hours?
Tanuki reports on happiness at work in Japan:
Conformity and obedience are ingrained in the culture and reinforced through the education system focused on mindless repetition, so they just don’t know any better. What it gives you is a team of mindless, uncreative and unhappy drones – contrary to the stereotype, Japanese workers are one of the least productive and effective ones I have ever seen, and this coming from an eastern European like me is saying something ;)
To a westerner like me the situation is horrible, bordering on ridiculous. One example I like to cite in discussions like this is that many people in my office work longer than ATM machines (in Japan many ATMs do not operate 24/7) – somehow soulless boxes need more free time than living people…
Sounds horrible to me. I wonder if it’s ingrained to the point where people are happy with it because the expect it or if there’s still a lingering dissatisfaction. I’m hoping for the latter!
I really appreciate recognition for work well done, so to role model that for others at my workplace, I do the following: set aside time on Fridays to write notes of praise to the person and their manager. If warranted, I send a “goody??, which is a gift card.
Setting time aside on my electronic calendar reminds me to thank those who’ve helped me during the week, and it gets the weekend off on a great start!
Wonderful idea! If praising others doesn’t come naturally to you (and to many people it doesn’t) here’s a great way to do it anyway.
A few months ago, I mentioned we started an initiative for the supervisors to walk around and speak to employees more.
In the end, I was the only one doing it and I was basically told not to because if I didn’t say hello to every single employee, it may appear to be discrimination or preferential treatment. It was even suggested that talking to one or two people of the opposite gender could appear to be an inter-office affair.
There are so many biases there that I can’t even begin to comment. End result, employees are now upset that I never come by to check on them, I was the only one that did and they want to know why I stopped. No good deed goes unpunished.
Indeed. I gotta wonder what school of management states that contact between employees and managers is such a minefield that it can only happen under strictly controlled circumstances and must be held at a minimum.