I believe there is a sweet spot for work too!

04 Jun

This morning I learned of a study indicating that there is a maximum number of hours a week for working at one's best. The study also talked about the needs of people over 40 who are healthiest when they work even less.  Of course this is a very controversial topic, but I am sure it's one you've considered at least some point in your career's journey, especially if you are a worker who's never had a break from full time work and you've been working for decades.

Many who end up taking a break from full time work - to raise children, to treat their disability, illness, etc. - are often casualties of the current American work system. Again, this is a highly controversial idea, especially amongst the more conservative-thinking members of our country.  

I'll bet Warren Buffet, Chris Hughes and Bill Gates get what I'm saying; Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and the Trumps perhaps less so?

But the issue of work hours is vitally important and needs to be talked about, just like we as a country need to invest more, but wisely, in the education of our workers and college students, even if that DOESN'T mean totally free tuition, which is probably too idealistic.

There needs to be a better awareness and acceptance of the value optimal human health brings to the workplace.  And not in the way it's mostly done today in many corners: lip service and 'lose weight' or 'balance work and life'  Blaming the individual instead of addressing systematic stresses.

It's always been the 'best of times, yet the worst of times'. Back in the days when manufacturing and the factories ruled most of the marketplace, there were dangers, problems and stresses, however, there were unions and good pay and benefits.  You went in, did your time and went home.  No more was expected. Jobs were less mentally stressful.  And you didn't worry about losing your job as long as you could keep up on the assembly line.

Today, many of these 'agreements' have radically shifted.  Those jobs went overseas for the most part. Today's workplace is full of different 'land mines', and today's employer hasn't had to worry nearly as much as yesterday's company about worker's rights breathing down their necks (just lawsuits!).  Unionism has been in steep decline for decades, to the point that most workers today are much more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life, brought on by the lack of employer loyalty.

In fact, in my years of working since the 1980's I've felt no loyalty from any employer.  Maybe my most 'loyal' employer was McDonald's, the job I held in high school....nah!  And employers gripe why no worker seems loyal to them.  Yes, there is the company or government department here and there where people still stay, for decades.  But this is rare today.  And, there are some issues with that more stagnant system as well.

The ideal to me is not to demonize employers but to offer workers the flexibility to give their best, when they're at their best. The idea of the 40 hour work week, 52 weeks a year, year after year, should be something employers take a serious look at. Does that still work for their product or market?  Are there other ways to engage and motivate workers to do their best for what you are trying to accomplish?

In the end it will be whatever keeps profits up.  That's the bottom line.  And I believe companies lose when they are rigid about how they 'work' their workers.

I believe each individual has unique talents and skills.  Their weekly work 'sweet spot' I call it.  This does change throughout their lifetime.  For example, the 25 year old may have endless energy, but lack wisdom.  The 55 year old has wisdom, but not the endless energy.  The 30 year old is willing to be led and be a follower.  Older workers chafe at being mistrusted and thrive when their needs for freedom and independence in working are honored.

Okay back to the real world for me over here.  The reality of work today is that humans are being compared to machines.  And the machines are going to replace so many jobs because they don't need vacations or breaks.  There is great pressure on older workers to not show 'weakness' and this can mean putting up with more than you can physically and/or mentally handle.

You'll hear me talk lots more on this topic.  What do you think?  Please feel free to comment below.  Let's get a juicy thread going!

Lastly, there are serious consequences to overwork, so let's not forget that.  Here's a link to learn more.

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