Now, here is a subject I will preview everyone to as being one I will tear into a lot in the coming year. That subject is the attitude amongst today’s ‘Top Earners’ that they HAVE TO work long hours to make the ‘Big Bucks’.
If this was a video-cast it would prelude with a shot of me currently standing up and giving ABC Evening News a standing ovation for the coverage of this subject last evening. And you would also see the bags under my eyes from not sleeping well last night after reading the Harvard Business study that went along with this report. It is very disturbing to think what the business world has come to as far as the use of human resources goes but having lived that life does not surprise me that it now has become a standard of the way to do business.
There are two things I can pass on to my many readers who are part of, or know people who are part of, this sector of the economy who is piloting a nose dive that will result in their health, life and financial ruin if they continue their course. The first thing is: Stop the insanity. Look at what is causing the need for such ‘Extreme’ need for working long hours. You will find absurdity as the primary and root cause. And secondly, the counter cause of the problem that needs to be discontinued is senior level executives playing the ‘Apprentice’ with junior level managers and filling them with false hope of advancement and financial reward for the person who works the longest hours. Simple solutions to a very large problem.
These two philosophies of work life are really what needs to be changed in the workplace today. What caused this extreme need for long hours of work? Since I was there when it began and rode out most of the trend I can factually tell you that stupidity, bad management, egos and lack of understanding the basics of business and the usage of human resources was at the beginning of what then was suppose to be a temporary situation..
The trend began as a desperate way to survive the profit margin adjustments large companies had to make to over come the over spending trends egocentric senior executives felt they need to do in the early 80’s and 90’s to make their companies appear ‘Strong’ to the stockholders.
The result of this stupidity was the cutting back budgets that caused huge reductions of workforce which pushed more middle level executives to have to work longer hours to keep up with what use to take seven or eight people to effectively complete. Once someone successful met what was then a temporary challenge, the top executives made logic out of it and made the amount of extra time that person, or persons, spent to complete the task as the new standard. Over time, those standards were being beat and companies would raise the standards even higher.
The sad thing is those managers put up with it then since the financial bonuses were substantial. So, here we are today, nearly 20 years later and with two decades of now senior executives, who survived the absurd extremes of working long hours of doing the work of ten people’s jobs done, now making it policy and now a standard of the way doing business.
Then small business got involved and before long a ‘Black Hole’ was formed in the economy where every aspect of the GNP was now governed on how much can be done with less. Time management was thrown out the window so the extreme could be managed to even higher standards. Businesses started pressuring their suppliers to deliver raw material they did not have before they have them. Clients making demands on professionals’ time, attorneys, doctors, CPA’s and the like, to deliver information or documents after normal hours and/or before they returned to their offices the next day causing them to work beyond time frames that are humanly feasible. Managers doubling quotes of items to be produced by their employees as a weed out process during performance appraisals. And, the list of absurd methods of managing a business goes on and on…
What is going to happen? Well according to the Harvard report, which I will stand behind, if this trend of working longer and longer hours does not stop, then the reverse is going to happen and productivity will be reduced due to quality issues. Then these people, who have chosen to take the route or feel they need to pursue the Extreme Work Hours, will abruptly experience Extreme Burnout. The kids who are saying they enjoy this fast pace way of life are in fact living on adrenaline and any doctor will tell you, there is only so much adrenaline that can be used in a human’s body.
Once these ‘Top Earners’ hit Extreme Burnout’ then the mental hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are going to be the ones who reap the reward. The number of business people who have breakdowns and need therapy and drugs to continue their then menial lives will be so high it will amplify the problems experienced in today’s health system. And there go all of those hard earned bucks they were reward for doing what they did…
My suggestion; get off that train at the next stop, or if there is no next stop, then jump, the fall will hurt you less than the crash… that is about the only way things are going to be back to normal, if Normal still exist.
Scot Duke is President of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC and author of How To Play Business Golf. Mr Duke uses his 30 years of business management experience to help business owners and executives develop their business to be more successful and mentor business people on how powerful of a ‘business tool’ Business Golf can be towards solving many business challenges. More information on Mr Duke and Business Golf and available seminar/workshops is available at the Innovative Business Golf Solutions web-site.