Stop Focusing on 40 Hours of Work

It’s time to kill the notion of worrying about making our employees work 40 hours each week and time to focus on getting at least 40 hours of productivity and results out of them. 

In today’s “I’m the Boss” I am speaking to the bosses and management out there who get a little too focused on attendance and numbers that don’t matter than real results.

Stop Focusing On the Wrong Goal & Result

As a boss, you sometimes get so worked up about when someone clocks in and out and how long they are at the desk. You spend a lot of time and effort making sure they work their assigned 40 hours a week by being at work for 40 hours. 

It’s the way management has been incorrectly trained for years. This wrong thinking is what leads to frustration and lack of success as a boss and employee. (We’re not talking about fast food or other places that require someone to be standing there helping others during open hours of operation.)

Are You Giving Out Attendance Awards?

How about getting people to produce 40 hours worth of work? What does that look like? Well, that is up to you as a boss, but unless you are handing out “attendance awards” who cares about 40 hours sitting at a computer, phone, or in a cubicle? 

Unlimited Vacation

Have you noticed that several companies have started coming out with unlimited vacation policies? They realize the goal isn’t “attendance” but it is productivity. Many people say the idea is crazy and too far out there. You my friend are stuck on the old-school box of thinking. Plus bosses know exactly what they are doing when they offer this perk. What do you want, attendance or productivity?

We have a company nearby that shuts down for holiday weeks because productivity is so low. Employees know they are shut down and they love knowing ahead of time that they don’t have to work. It’s not a worry each year and scheduling hassle to fill shifts. Plus why work when oftentimes other people are out of the office? Not much gets done. Employees work extra hours and get things done ahead of time.

This company also allows for unlimited vacation and doesn’t mind if you are in or out of the office to get that work done…as long as it gets done and done well. Know what happened since they instituted that policy? Turnover dropped like a rock, productivity sky rocketed, and they found that employees worked more hours because even though they were out of the office or on vacation, they couldn’t leave work alone. They hired people who have so much drive in their DNA that they knew work would still get done.

Employees feel a ton of trust and personal accountability because they know if they abuse the trust it is gone so everyone works as a team to keep this great perk.

Productive Means Happy as Well

Most people, not all, want to have some level of accomplishment in their job. They like to get things done and be engaged (honestly I hate that word at work). Yes, some people do not, but that is a bigger and completely different issue that needs to be resolved.

As management, we want to have busy, productive, and happy employees. Employees want it as well, but since we worry and focus on the wrong things like absolute attendance and butt-in-the-chair hours we don’t always measure true productivity.

Paying for Results or Attendance

I have base pay for my employees along with individual and group incentives. It is designed that way so that there is motivation on your own and then again as a group. If you don’t pull your weight and meet the minimum you qualify for no bonuses even if the group earned a bonus. No one gets rewarded for being dragged along by the group. You actually held them back and they still achieved the goal despite your poor efforts.

I feel that those who want to work, know how to work, and go above and beyond to get results need to be rewarded. I love hiring this type of employee who thrives in this environment and just sees them run and achieve more and more each month. They set their own goals and just go crazy. It’s awesome and the best thing for me is to get out of their way and let them go.

Pay What They Are Worth

I had a meeting this week and another person in management mentioned an employee was dropping from 40 hours to 20 in the future I said, “we’ll finally pay them for what they actually do” and everyone laughed because it was true.

It’s not my employee, but I’m not sure why the other manager tolerates it. When you tolerate laziness it kills the morale of the team. You need to motivate and get that employee going and if they don’t want to do it….then it’s time to consider options. You simply can’t pay employees full-time for part-time effort.

Building Trust

When employees get results and you train them like crazy and allow them to do their job then you build up trust and it creates an environment where employees want to be and stay for the long term. They take personal accountability for their actions and results without you having to stand over them with a whip. 

No one likes to be micromanaged and this is one way to be able to avoid it. You also have more free time as a boss because you aren’t having to constantly supervise the day-to-day actions of employees. You can’t totally ignore it but the results will show you total productivity instead of just hours worked.

Focus On Productivity – Change Your Mindset 

Just because someone works 40 hours doesn’t mean that you only need to get 40 hours of productivity from them. Why not aim for 60 hours of productivity instead of just 20 or 40? If you have a task that needs to be done do you honestly care if it gets done in one day as long as the quality and results are there? I don’t.

I had a new employee start this week and asked about clocking in and out and I said I don’t care…I only look at what gets done. After I picked them up off the floor (not really, but their eyes got really big when I told them my policy so I know they were shocked) I explained that I’m all about the quality of work and productivity. If you can get the job done at the end of the day I don’t care about the hours you work.

Not everyone can work this way. Some folks need structure and lots of supervision to get things done. Another reason why quality job interviews are so vital is to pick the right person for what you are trying to do.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

We all have heard this phrase and this is a big point of emphasis for me. There is nothing sacred to me when it comes to getting results. Outside opinion is extremely helpful to figure out new ideas.

We used to be very numbers oriented. Make this many contacts and this many phone calls. Well, that is awesome, but at the same time, the contact and phone calls aren’t the ultimate desired result. So what is the result and how do we get more of that?

We started to reduce our contacts and areas to consolidate our efforts. Instead of shooting and spraying with a shot gun, we targeted smaller areas. Suddenly instead of having tons of contacts and not many sales all of a sudden, we started having higher-quality contacts in the desired areas. We reduced travel and effort and increased results which was a huge win all the way around with lowered costs and more money. Smarter not harder.

Sometimes call centers that reach out and make too many contacts with people on the outskirts and maybe get 5% results…or 5 sales out of 100 calls, but reduce the area and tweak the message and get 15 sales out of 60 calls. I always emphasize quality over quantity. Sometimes get so caught up in numbers we miss out on productivity and results which are the real measurement at the end of the day.

Busy Working the Wrong Way

Maybe the goal is to make 50 contacts with clients each week. Somebody in your group thinks to themselves and says, “I’m going to go above and beyond by making 100.” Well, that is great, I love self-starters, but again contacts aren’t the goal, it is the sale.

100 contacts with 1 sale are worse than a lazy person making 10 contacts and 2 sales a week. Actually, neither is really great. Need someone who says, “I know 50 is the minimum but I can do better and make 60-75 quality and get 15-20 sales.” That is someone with focus and understanding the job and true result of what needs to be done the right way and not just “done.”

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