The business consequences of excessive work

What must happen? Listen here.

As organisations strive for increased levels of profit and with greater levels of competition, margins are scrutinised more than ever. Making sure that there is limited waste and that the business is as efficient as ever…if not more…the expression “lean” comes into play.

While suppliers can be squeezed for costs and price hikes passed onto customers, one of the areas that becomes under review is the staffing levels. The problem with this is that reductions can only occur for so long…Sadly on some occasions the end effect becomes excessive work for those that remain.

A survey by the Institute for employment studies showed that 11% of employees in the UK were working long hours (over 48 hours a week). Is this sustainable and with what end outcomes?

With the increased levels of technology, it has become easier to work increased hours particularly being able to access emails from home. Although this may increase hours, there are a couple of anomalies…Employers that allow for home working and even some blue chips that allow you to go home when you have finished your work, even before the end of the standard hours!

Some Swedish companies have experimented with reduced hours and have seen benefits…Better productivity and enhanced wellbeing. Is it a case of fitting in the work in to the hours available?

Further research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. There can be several reasons:
·         An environment that does not empower its people meaning too much bureaucratic decision making
·         Poor lines of communication
·         Blurred lines of responsibility
·         Indecisive Leadership

The effect of all of this can lead to reduced levels of productivity, poor performance, reduced employee engagement and increased sickness/absenteeism levels.

In turn the results of this can be poor work/life balance, a lack of sleep and increased stress levels which will erode the perceived benefit of reducing staffing levels.

Irrespective of the rationale behind looking to reduce the headcount in any business, the first consideration should be the reverse…How can I make my people more positive about their work and create an enhanced feel good factor. Productivity might even increase and the need to cut back on staffing disappear!

It can kind of screw up things if you’re trying to overwork something.
Jeff Bridges