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This Is Why Working Less Is Better For You

This Is Why Working Less Is Better For You

“Working less will guarantee happiness and joy of life, instead of frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia.”- Bertrand Russell

Are you on 24/7, travelling all over the place, texting from your bed and putting in 80/90 hours a week? Is your work-life balance so skewed that the ‘life’ element is off the scale? If so, try to find time to read this post because maybe working less could save your life, company and family life.

It will take some time to get rid of the long hours culture but we are getting there. It is slowly dawning on the general masses that working less is not only much better for your health but will increase happiness in family life and will also be a boost for the economy. As far back as the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, was speculating that by the year 2030, a 15 hour working week would be perfectly feasible given technological advances. Still a long way to go.

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A motor company employee in South Korea recently wrote that it was impossible to work less than a twelve hour day: “Almost everybody working in this country is suffering from the same horrible thing every day for life. I want to get out of here. We want life.”

But is there any scientific evidence for this or is it all wishful thinking on the part of a minority who have seen the light?

Working less will cut sick leave.

Did you know that Greece has the longest working year in Europe? They put in 2,000 hours annually on average. Now if working longer means more productivity, then Greece should be leading the European economy but it is not! In fact German productivity is 70% higher than theirs even though their working year (1,400 hours) is much shorter. There may be other factors at work here. But Germany, Holland and Belgium are leading the way on shorter working hours. In fact, experts are now recommending that the 40 hour week should be reduced to 30 hours.

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The Gothenburg city council in Sweden is hoping to experiment with a project where they will split test two different departments. The first will work 30 hours a week (6 hour day) while the other one will do the normal 40 hour week. They hope to be able to show that the shorter working week will mean fewer sick days off and more productivity. They also expect employees on the shorter week to be in better mental and physical health.

Work smarter, not harder or longer

The key to all this of course to make better use of your time at work. This will reduce your stress levels and give you greater job satisfaction. There are various ways you can get things done in a shorter time and also allow us to have breaks so you are not overwhelmed by weariness. This will reduce your stress levels and give you greater job satisfaction. Try some of these, if they suit you:

  • Talk to your boss if you feel you are being given too many unreasonable challenges.
  • Ask your employer/encourage your employees about the possibilities regarding flexi time and how much of the work you can do at home. Not for everybody because the home environment may be chaotic!
  • Set yourself mini goals for doing important tasks. Set an alarm for regular breaks. These can be increased during the day as you get more tired.
  • Limit your to do list to the top priority jobs. Get these done in the morning when you are at your best. The motivational high will help you through the rest of the day because of having achieved those really demanding tasks.
  • Orient your goals to the tasks you have achieved rather than how long they took.
  • Keep a separate list of ‘done tasks’ to help your motivation and also see your progress. This works better than cancelling them off the to do list.Working less multiplies health benefits

Working less multiplies health benefits

There are lots of studies done on how your health, work-life balance improve and overall how your own productivity is boosted, when you work less.

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One study shows that being able to pursue a hobby, sport or other interest can actually boost creativity.  Employers should try to create a culture where wellness is encouraged as being an integral part of productivity.

One alarming article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has found that there is a direct correlation between domestic conflict and work burnout.

You can help the environment by working less. Shorter working weeks in 2008 in Utah helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 10,000 metric tons.

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The best news of all is that if you start saying ‘thank you’ to coworkers and employees, you can increase their productivity by up to 50%. This was the result of a study at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now before you rush off to that meeting, how about saying thank you to your staff for all their hard work and encourage them to take a break?

 

Featured photo credit: Exhausted/baratunde via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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