For several years, every November and December, I experienced three-day work weeks thanks to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Due to the shortened workweeks, I had to be extremely focused, making efficient use of my limited time those weeks. I cut way back the amount of time devoted to watching adorable cat videos on YouTube.
With only three days to get everything done, I dutifully avoided sending our my normal two dozen humor emails a day with links to things like hilarious parody music videos on the Twelve Days of Christmas. I discovered that I accomplished so much in these shortened work weeks that it got me to thinking: Imagine how much more efficient workers would all be if we all had a three-day work week.
There are many companies – and even a few cities (El Paso, TX, Melbourne, FL) and at least one state (Utah) that are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, their employees work four 10-hour days, and they really get a lot of things done in these ten-hour days…well, in the first 8 hours anyway. Polls of workers who have shifted to a four-day work schedule indicate that 85% prefer it to the previous five-day schedule and an overwhelming 99% prefer it to the seven-day 80-hour work week with no time off for Christmas.
The advantages of a four-day work week are obvious:
- Reduced commuting time and reduced energy consumption by eliminating one day of commuting travel per week
- Improved energy efficiencies from reduced use of electricity and heating in offices and factories which are closed one more day each week
- You can get drunk on Thursday night and don’t have to make up transparent excuses for not showing up to work on Friday, like “I can’t make it into work today, boss because my four-year old Nate is sick with the measles again… Yeah, I know it’s the 7th time this year. He has a really crappy immune system…”
Until this past July, for the previous four decades, I had always worked in business. I was routinely required to submit reports on my progress: Sales forecasts, pipeline analyses, business plans – you name the report, I made it up, er, I mean…. um …
My point is this: Just because I’ve recently retired and moved to an island home near an idyllic beach doesn’t mean I plan to stop submitting regular progress reports. Quite the contrary. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued this practice into retirement. The focus of those reports, however, has shifted slightly.
Here is my business report for the past week.
Sea Shell Inventory Forecast:
My collection of sea shells grew by an impressive 11% this past month, due in part to two unscheduled beach-combing field inspections. While sightings of scallop shells were up 14% year-over-year, unfortunately, the projected production of intact sand dollars is expected to be down 18 to 20% compared to the previous quarter, in part due to increased foreign competition (tourists from Japan) which is anticipated to grab significant market share. I plan to diversify my portfolio of shells by investing (my time) in conch shells, tibias and spiny oyster shells. I’m optimistic we will experience a net gain next quarter if beach market conditions continue on their downward tidal trend.
Periodically in this column, I don my business consultant hat (a stylish Italian grey fedora) to share innovative business strategies to grow your business and improve your employees’ productivity. As a sought-after business process improvement expert and author of the popular business handbook, Stop Tasering Your Team – and 50 Other Strategies to Improve Employee Morale, I can help businesses prosper – if only they’d stop and listen to me for once.
I have frequently been approached by executives from Microsoft to Amazon.com to Ninja Ned’s Car Stereo & Hot Tub Emporium on South Aurora Avenue – all asking me the same question: How did you get past security? But as soon as they discover who I am, they are often surprised to learn about my out-of-the-box business strategies (usually as they are escorting me out-of-the-premises).
In this installment, I share the thought-provoking conclusions of a recent Dutch study published in the scholarly journal, Psychological Science. The study tested people’s decision-making ability when their bladders were full and found that people with full bladders tended to make better decisions and were better able to control and hold off making impulsive, costly decisions, leading to better judgment. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Other findings included that Dutch researchers appear to have way too much time on their hands.
As most of you know, over the past 25 years, I have been a highly sought-after lecturer / motivational speaker on business success strategies (gleaned largely from lessons I learned by making boneheaded business mistakes over the past 25 years). Every organization’s success is built on (brutally beating down) the backs of its frontline employees.
Business experts like myself – and even experts not like myself – have long known that employee recognition programs are a powerful way to reward your employees for their efforts. These programs build loyalty and reduce turnover, while at the same time improving systems, reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction levels and keeping trophy companies in business.
Thanks to innovative employee recognition programs, every year motivated employees find creative ways to eliminate redundancies, cut costs, improve efficiencies, and leapfrog over obnoxious rival suck-ups competing with you for that next promotion.
There are a variety of highly effective employee recognition incentives, from nifty restaurant gift certificates to prime location parking spaces to those popular Employee of the Month plaques in the lobby that list the name of the same employee, Lin Chong (left), every month from January 2003 through October 2010 except for two months in 2008 when she was briefly out for chemotherapy for a life-threatening illness. In each case, these highly motivating incentives cost their employer roughly the cost of one cartridge of black inkjet printer toner.
Having more than 25 years of management experience under my belt (only 7 of which were catastrophically misguided), I periodically like to share a few pearls of business wisdom. Some might argue it’s more like scraps of cubic zirconia. Nevertheless, I feel morally bound to help others grow in their business or move ahead in their career. Today’s lesson: The critical importance of committees as an engine of business. Read More…