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11 Things People With Long Working Hours Understand So Well

11 Things People With Long Working Hours Understand So Well

The 40-hour workweek has been the American standard since the early 20th century, when Henry Ford discovered the sweet spot for productivity and scheduling. Yet, in recent years, more and more workers are committing to workweeks of 60 hours and above, pushing their minds and bodies to the limits — and incurring dreadful results, like the following 11 difficulties long-hours workers experience on a daily basis.

1. They Are Seriously Scared Of Office Chair Butt

When one spends untold hours parked at one’s desk, one has little opportunity to walk to the water cooler, let alone get the recommended daily dose of exercise! Unfortunately, that over-abundance of sitting can create office chair butt: a flat, saggy posterior that comes from the atrophying of the gluteal muscles. There are a handful of helpful tips to prevent bad cases of chair butt, but long-hours workers still have much to fear for their rear.

2. They Don’t Have Enough Makeup To Cover Their Eye Circles

Long days at work usually mean excruciatingly short nights of sleep, resulting in the dark circles of fatigue under one’s eyes. Despite the plethora of products on the market to cure and cover those under-eye circles, a long-hours worker’s bags are simply too deep to fill. Thus, they not only feel tired all the time — they look it, too.

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3. They Look Forward To Their Long Hours Paying Off

There are plenty of people who seem to be made to work long hours — particularly those who aim to move up the corporate ladder. These people will put in the time to go back to school, take on complicated projects, or whatever else it will take to move ahead in a great management career. While life may not be a party right now, working a ridiculous number of hours is simply a stepping stone to the fulfillment they look forward to from their jobs.

4. They Feel Most At Home In The Break Room

The more time one spends at work, the less time there is to be at home. Eventually, the workplace just begins to feel like home — especially the break room, where one can eat, lounge, and sleep without ramifications.

5. They Live Off Vending Machine Goodies And Fast Food

Sure, one could pack an inexpensive, healthy lunch and dinner every day — but that would mean taking time for oneself instead of rushing to and from the office every waking minute. In contrast, food from the vending machine is convenient, which means one can grab a candy bar and immediately get back to work.

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6. They Are Incessantly Teased By Co-Workers

Just because one member of the team is an overachieving long-hours worker doesn’t mean everyone in the office stays well past 5 p.m. every evening. Most employees give the bare minimum to their jobs, and like grade-school bullies, they will mercilessly make fun of those who put effort into their work. Unfortunately, co-workers’ laziness and tormenting only forces long-hours workers to work longer and harder.

7. They Have No Time For Romance

Conventionally, romance is about slow charm. Passion grows at its own pace, and it usually takes time for two people to develop feelings of love and commitment. Thus, most long-hours workers can’t tolerate traditional forms of dating and courtship. If one must find a mate, the Web is the best place to look, but more often, it is easier to simply go without.

8. They Never See Their Friends — And Always Feel Guilty About It

Of course, one wants to go see one’s friend on open mic night, and of course, one looks forward to trying that new Lithuanian food place with everyone — if only one could get a few hours away from the work desk. A long-hours worker’s friends are always annoyed by the work responsibilities that keep their friend away, and long-hours workers feel the same, but worse.

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9. They Usually Miss Important Family Functions

Most successful people have their families to thank for providing support and stability — especially in the beginning, when long hours kept them away for most of the year. Graduations, anniversaries, and even birthdays are often lower priorities than the project that is due in mere hours. Fortunately, most family members will stick by their hardworking loved ones, no matter how many big events they miss.

10. They Hear Over and Over How Work Will Kill Them

Working long hours is a recipe for a death cocktail. Stress, lack of sleep, eye strain, and sitting for such an extended period of time has been shown to lead to all sorts of physical and mental disorders, from early heart attacks and strokes to dementia. One may be working hard now to enjoy a life of leisure that will never come.

11. They Are Constantly Terrified By News Stories

Every week or so, the media machine produces a new story on someone who has dropped dead from working long hours. The phenomenon is so common in Japan that it has its own name: “karoshi”, or death from overwork. However these poor souls die, we definitely don’t want our beloved long-hours workers to experience the same fate — but how in the world are we supposed to get them to stop working?

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Featured photo credit: reynermedia via flickr.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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