The 40 hour work week is a hot topic as of late.
Some folks say it is an unproductive drag of time that hurts the opportunity for a healthy life-work balance.
Others stand by it as the gold-standard for how to make a decent living.
I won’t deny that those who believe it is the only way to make a living are a bit stuck in the past. There are surely many ways that work best in creating productive, happy employees.
I could write seven articles about how different industries ought to have this time standard or that time standard, but ultimately the most important factor is making sure that time spent at work is as productive as possible.
No matter how much it is.
As an employer, I have four questions I ask myself in order to create the most optimal workplace for me and my crew. It is up to you to ensure that your employees are given every chance to maximize their effort, yield high-quality work, and enjoy the process as much as possible. When your employees are happy and focused, they’re more productive.
As an employee, you may want look for these in the hiring process and early stages of your job.
1. Do your employees know what is expected of them?
It seems like a glaringly obvious question, but it is one that should come up first when teams begin to perform weakly. Make sure everyone knows their tasks and deadlines so that they can face them head-on. No one works well, when they don’t even know what they’re supposed to do.
If an employee has to ask around for something to do or believes they have no task, find something for them to attack. You hired them for a reason and they (should) want to work. Let them!
Sometimes you may find out that an employee was unaware of what was expected of them and they did not speak up. When this happens, reflect on why it is that they did not speak up.
Were you unapproachable? Are your delegations too messy? Are they no longer a good fit for their responsibilities? These will all make you a better leader and taskmaster.
2. Do they know where they stand in relation to the org chart?
As the last point illustrated, ambiguity kills ambition. If you don’t know where or how exactly you’re contributing to the team, how can you best execute your position?
Make sure none of your team has to wonder what their specific role is in the organization. They will have a better framework on how to solve problems and ask questions if they know their post.
This doesn’t mean positions have to be overly rigid though. Sometimes people may have extra time to help with tasks outside of their own realm. Be mindful when this happens.
It’s nice to have someone take more on their plate if they’ve completed their specific task, but once the lines become completely blurred between their official position, they may begin to stray.
Keep positions flexible where necessary, but don’t overdo it.
3. Do your employees know how they are measured?
Be sure to review with your team how their work will be judged. If they do not know the standard for their work, they won’t perform up to them or they will spend too much time guessing where their output should be
Use your metrics in reviews to create a basis by which that employee is measured. I doubt everyone will have the same form of measurement, so stay organized to adjust and advise as necessary.
More importantly, be sure you have a system of measurement in the first place!
Is it through analytics? Number of items produced? Purely on quality?
If you do not have any kind of measurement on which to assess your team, the results of your venture will vary wildly. Consistency is key to growth; make sure everyone understands what that consistency is.
4. Is there an environment of recognition and reward?
I’m not talking about gold watches and five year blankets, but is there intrinsic value to them and doing what they do?
We all want to be valued and have our worked noticed. We all want to do what matters and as an organization, you can create an environment that does that. Never forget to give kudos when they are due and make sure everyone feels like they are a respected part of the team.
Perhaps someone doesn’t perform well enough to give kudos to. Give criticisms when they are appropriate as well, but keep it constructive. Tell them how they can do a better job and commend them when they shape-up. Always try to push people upward before bigger penalties are required.
If you create an environment with these questions top-of-mind, the 40 hour work week almost becomes irrelevant.
If, as an employer, you see your people coming in at nine and clocking out dead on five, then you know you haven’t built the right environment. Unless, of course, that’s the environment you want to build; but you could not pay me enough to work in an environment such as that.
When you have direction and passion for what you do, you never work a day in your life. You’ll work hard, sometimes too much, but you won’t feel bad about taking a break. You’ll have the pride of knowing you had been a part of something successful.
It’s about creating a balanced environment where work can be done in a rewarding, satisfying, and productive way.