Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Survey says . . .

I’m always a bit leery of information based on a “recent survey”. There are so many factors involved in any sort of survey that if they aren’t done correctly, it can be misleading.

Case in point: if I were to take a survey of the people under the age of 18 that are currently in my house, 100% of them would be female. In addition, all of them would be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But wait! There’s more! All of them were born in the USA. Using this data, I could say, “In a recent survey, all females under the age of 18 born in the USA are LDS.”

Often there are surveys that contradict each other. I can’t help believe that some of the surveys are biased based on what the person conducting the survey is hoping to prove.

Keeping all this in mind, I came across a recent story that claims, “Working More Than 40 Hours a Week is Useless”. That’s a pretty big claim—and frankly a bit misleading.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in total agreement that the work week should be kept at 40 hours a week. However, while I agree with parts of the story, my reasons are somewhat different.

The story claims that “According to a handful of studies, consistently clocking over 40 hours a week just makes you unproductive (and very, very tired).” Also, “What these studies showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them. On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day.”

I’ve stated in other posts my distain for companies that abuse the “exempt” laws for employees. Basically, if you are considered to be an “exempt” employee (which to over simplify it means you are paid a salary) you don’t have to get paid overtime if you work more than 40 hours. It’s been my experience that larger companies equate the number of hours you spend at work to how dedicated of an employee you are. To that I say: hogwash!

I had a boss that claimed to work from 7 am to 7 pm every day. However, he would often be gone for large chunks of time during the middle of the day. Sometimes he was getting his hair cut. Sometimes he was getting his car tuned up. Sometimes he was at the doctor. Now, I don’t begrudge him having to do these things. But it does help support my position for a 40 hour work week: work / life balance.

To me, a bigger argument for a 40 hour work week is to have a work / life balance. The best employees I’ve had were those that were actively involved in their family / church / community / hobbies and or any of those in combination. They were happier at work which made them more productive. We’d get better work done in 8 hours than during 10 or 12 hour shift.

I’ll admit there are times that working more than 40 hours may be needed time and again—but that should be the exception and not the rule.

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