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6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Too Hard For Your Job

6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Too Hard For Your Job

Many people have the preconception that Millennials are lazy. They think that the concept of “work” for Millennials is different: Millennials don’t see 10-12 hour days at the office productive. They want to work from the coffee shop down the street, because they “feel” better there. They want to be judged only by results, not by the amount of time and effort they appear to have put into a project. This is a huge paradigm shift which members of older generations have difficulty making.

No matter if this stereotype is true or not, research is beginning to support this style of working – working hard does not automatically translate to productivity. Here are 6 reasons to explain why less may actually be more.

1. Working Long Hours Decreases Productivity

Working from “dawn to dusk” has been a norm for thousands of years. Yet it was until Henry Ford’s study in 1926 that people’s conception of work began to change.

Henry Ford discovered that by reducing the working hours to 8 and the working days to 5, workers would become more productive. His studies did not fall on deaf ears. His study contributed to laws regulating the number of working days and working hours. Employers were hence required to to pay for overtime work.

More recent studies by the U.S. military show that losing sleep and working longer hours will adversely affect cognition – the ability to learn, think, and reason – over time. So, if you are one of those people who are used to working long after everyone else has left the office, you should be aware that your productivity and your ability to think and reason will be reduced accordingly as well. (along with your joie de vivre).

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2. Promotion is not Based on the Number of Hours You Have Worked

The traditional thinking goes: “If I really work hard; if I stay late at the office every night; if I keep busy all day and don’t “chat around the water cooler” like the others, my boss will notice that. Then, when an opening for a promotion comes, I’ll be selected.” If you think in this way, unfortunately, you may be misguided.

This is what your boss may be thinking: “Bob is a hard worker. I really appreciate his dedication to getting that project finished by the deadline. On the other hand, why is it taking him so many more hours? Jane seems to get the same types of projects completed during normal working hours, and hers are just as complete and of the same quality level.”

When it is time for promotion, your boss may also think: “Bob is such a hard worker. I know that he will work even harder with this promotion, but how many more hours can he work? Jane seems to manage time better and get more done in a shorter period of time. She can handle more responsibilities. Jane is the best pick.”

The message is sad, but true – the number of hours you work is not important to your bosses.

3.  It is More Important to Prioritise than to Execute

It seems that the more we work, the more chances we have to perform, and the more we will receive gratitudes and thanks. Again, this is not necessarily true.

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What happens may actually be this: People may just find you for all the unimportant tasks because you never refuse.

It is important to set priorities and say “no” to those requests that are just time-wasters. Turn people down assertively but appropriately. Say, “I’m sorry. I don’t have the time to do that.” As Warren Buffet once said: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

4. Refusing to Succumb to “Down-Time” at Work Doesn’t Make You More Admirable

We call these people “workaholics.” They refuse to participate in “down-time” activities at work because they are either obsessively driven or they believe that it wastes the company’s time. Besides, staying at one’s desk “looks” better to bosses.

You may “brown bag” your lunch and eat at your desk. You may refuse invitations to take a break with others in the staff lounge. All of this does not make you admired. You are seen by co-workers as unfriendly and perhaps a “brown-noser”.

Refusing to allow yourself some down time meaning you become less productive as the day wears on, and if there is really critical work for your afternoon, you will lack the energy to attack it well. Then you stay late or go home with work. It’s a vicious cycle.

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You will not be any less thought of if you take down time. Even the most successful minds of this world need to relax. For instance:

  • Winston Churchill took a nap every afternoon and no one was allowed to disturb that. He insisted that he had a much more productive work day because of it.
  • Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Reagan all took afternoon naps. Kennedy had lunch in bed and slept afterward.
  • John D. Rockefeller took a nap every day in his office.

A number of smart people take down time to engage in personal activities that are totally unrelated to work at all, just to put their brains on something else and because they have other interests. One executive had quite a portfolio with SEIS Investment, and used his downtime to study market trends and contemplate any new investments he might want to make. This was “fun” for him. Identify what is “fun” or relaxing for you and schedule some time in the middle of your workday for that.

Bottom line – having down-time isn’t unproductive or makes you look “worse”. It’s the necessary activity (or lack of such) that your brain needs!

5. Doing Everything Yourself, and Putting in Long Hours to do that, Doesn’t Breed Admiration

Every organization has these types of people. Their basic approach to tasks and projects is this:

  • To get something done right, they will need to do it all themselves.
  • They need to control every detail of a project from start to finish
  • They cannot trust others to complete their parts well and on time
  • Asking for help makes them look weak and less capable
  • If they do it all themselves, they will have more admiration and respect

If this sounds like you, understand that inability to delegate or micro-managing every detail of a project is two things: – exhausting and a real “negative” to subordinates, co-workers and to bosses.

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Subordinates believe that you do not trust them. Co-workers believe that you are a “glory-seeker” and bosses believe that you are not executive material. If you are trying to impress everyone with your dedication to every detail of a project, understand that you are really getting the opposite!

6. Being a Perfectionist Means Long Hours without Reward

We all want our work to be right. And we want it to be approved of by our superiors. When we carry this to an extreme, however, this is what happens:

  • We continue to second-guess ourselves, creating our own stress
  • We continue to re-work, re-write, re-do because our attitude is that it can always be better
  • We believe that perfection is actually attainable, if we just put in more hours, work a bit longer and harder
  • A perfect work product means that we will have admiration and respect that will move us forward on our career ladder

The truth is this:

  • The more time we spend seeking perfection, the less productive we are
  • Superiors wonder what is taking so long and begin to wonder if the “job” is just too much for you
  • Perfection is a nice goal but is never really achieved. The goal is to complete a project that meets the goals of the project and the organization. Spending hours of time re-writing every sentence of a proposal or report; continuing to seek additional research to back up the great research you already have; these things are just unproductive and time-wasters.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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