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Happiness at work 2017- Do we even want to work.

21 Mar

Today is the World happiness report was published. A report that was first published in 2012. The happiest country in the world this year is Norway just piping Denmark to the top spot. Denmark have had the crown more times than any other country but second place this year is still a great achievement.

Within the report Jan-Emmanuel De Neve( Oxford University) and George Ward(LSE) produced a comprehensive world report on happiness at work.  I have outlined below a few of the main points that they have discovered from their research.

Unemployment has a wider affect than expected.

We all know that being unemployed has a detrimental effect on our ability to provide for ourselves and our family but also in providing a sense of purpose to our existence.

The research completed by Jan-Emmanuel and George showed that high unemployment affects everyone negatively. Including

  • That individuals who are unemployed report approximately 30 per cent more negative affective experiences as opposed to those in employment.
  • People do not adapt much if at all to being unemployed.
  • Returning to work after a period of unemployment leaves scarring and can lead to lower happiness than those who have not lost employment at any stage.
  • Employment matters greatly for the wellbeing of individuals.
  • High unemployment in a society can have an indirect effect on those with jobs as this creates anxiety and heightens fear about job security.
  • Unemployed people are less affected by higher unemployment as the social stigma may be lessened and it is also easier to find social contacts.
  • High national unemployment contributes negatively to national happiness.

Are Self employed Happier than full time employees?


This is interesting

  • Self employment in Latin America the Caribbean and Sub Saharan Africa reported lower life evaluations.
  • In comparison those that were self-employed in Europe, North America, Australia New Zealand, Commonwealth states and East Asia associated Self employment with a higher life evaluation and a positive affect. Greater Autonomy and social safety nets in these structures might have a part to play in these differences.
  • Being self-employed has also higher levels of negative emotions such as stress and worry.


Blue or White Collar who is happier?

Well the report noticed that there is a difference between jobs that required physical exertion and manual  labour and those that worked in professional environments.

  • Construction workers, manufacturing, Forestry and fisheries workers, Transport and  Mining workers all experienced lower levels of happiness than their counterparts.
  • Professionals, Managers, Executives and officials scored themselves a little over 6 out of 10  when evaluating the quality of their lives in comparison to 4.5 out of 10 on average for those working in farming Fisheries and forestry.
  • But the interesting comparison is that farming, forestry and fishing in North America, Australia and New Zealand reported equal if not higher life evaluations to their professional counterparts.
  • Where you live and what support you have matters.

Satisfaction and Engagement at work

sleep well

Here are some facts that we already knew but are interesting all the same.

  • By this Gallup poll it was a bleak picture that was painted when we looked at employee engagement. Less than 20% of workers were  actively engaged at work. Only 10% in Western Europe and even less in East Asia.If We round that off to 85% internationally for disengaged workers. The Figures are staggering.
  • A reference was made to The Bryson and Mckerron report that had individuals through an App relay what they were feeling and what they were doing at random times during the day as their smart phone pinged them. Out of the 39 activities that individuals could report engaging in work was rated lower than any of the other 39 activities with the sole exception of being sick in bed as worse. That says a lot.People would rather be doing any of the other 37 activities than working.
  • Senior professionals recorded a higher job satisfaction rating than any other job type.This may equate to pay and conditions and benefits available.

Money matters

The report found that higher wages are predictive of greater wellbeing. Those in higher paying jobs are more satisfied with their lives than those in the lower paid roles. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is being met here and not for others. There is also higher levels  of self actualization available in certain roles.

What is important beyond income?

What was discovered was that there are six areas after money was no longer an issue that mattered.

  1. Variety within a role  and the ability to learn new things leads to more satisfied workers who experience more positive emotions day-to-day.
  2.  Social capital or support from co workers a feeling that your boss or others are looking out for you.Also having a say in regards to policy decisions made by the organization.
  3. Autonomy- The ability to control their working day and make decisions that matter to what they do.
  4. A balance between work and life. Those that have a job that leave them too tired to enjoy the non work elements of their lives report lower levels of positive affect. Less time with family and having to bring their job home also contributes to lower levels of subjective wellbeing.
  5. A role with good opportunities for advancement and opportunity leads to greater satisfaction.
  6. The competence of bosses has been shown to be a strong indicator of job satisfaction.

Consequently those with Jobs that involved risks for health and safety scored worse on measures for subjective wellbeing.

With such low levels of employee engagement(less than 20%) there is still a lot to be done to make work feel relevant to many people. Simply put if people were financially stable and working for money was no longer an issue people would most likely spend their day quite differently.

So money does matter but so does control over the working day. A balance between work and non work experiences. An opportunity to experience self actualization in work through advancement and learning and a feeling that someone in your workplace is looking out for you.

Get some of these right and we might slowly move the desire by many of the worlds workers to be anywhere but work.

The Happy Workplace Programme

17 Feb


Dates: March 23rd and 24th, May 4th and 5th

A happy workplace leads to greater productivity and tangible business results. This programme is about placing people at the heart of what your managers do.

What You Will Learn

Based upon our own practical experience at Happy, and learning from some of the world’s great workplaces (like Google and WL Gore) this programme will enable you to become a leader that people would choose to be led by. It will give you the personal insight and practical leadership and management skills to create a high performing team.

Key Outcomes

Credible leaders and managers that inspire trust
An agile and responsive organisation working within clear values and principles
Greater trust and autonomy for your people
High performing teams working to their strengths and to a common goal
A more engaged and motivated team
High levels of accountability within the team, enabling them to deliver high quality on time
Greater innovation and greater productivity
Detailed programme outline

Day OnePersonal Leadership The core of an effective culture
Understand when people work at their best
Who you are as a leader: play to your strengths
Build trust and credibility
Identify your communication style
Develop your emotional intelligence
You will be excited about your leadership role, with a clear understanding of how to improve your personal effectiveness.

Day TwoPowerful Coaching and CommunicationEffective 1 to 1’s
The core of great management: effective coaching
Empower your people to solve their own challenges
Active listening, the basis of effective communication
How to give positive and constructive feedback
Communication at team level
You will develop key coaching skills and develop strong communication to maximise the effectiveness of the team.

Day Three Create the Right CultureEnable trust and autonomy, within clear guidelines
Create true job ownership
Delegating responsibility
More information equals more accountability
Working to your strengths
Successful recruitment and induction
Discover the structure and practicalities of how to create a truly great workplace.

Day FourPerformance Management in Practice.Create a culture for innovation
Workshop to support real situations faced by participants
Deal with difficult behaviour
Deal with poor performance
Groups will coach each other using the skillslearnt to look for positive steps forward
Personal action plan beyond the programme
This workshop-style day will be based on solving the practical issues you face in your company or organisation

Course dates and pricing:

The dates are 23rd and 24th of Mar and the 4th and 5th of May in Dublin.
The cost is €1,500.
For Happy workplace 2016 attendees we have an Early bird price of €950 for the 4 days
The course will run from 10am until 4.30pm with lunch provided on each day 1pm-1.45pm
Attendees Feedback

“Really well designed and delivered course. Management training/leadership for grown-ups at grown-up organisations.”

Remi Gberbo, General Dental Council

Happy demonstrates how the method for attaining a happy and high achieving workplace is within the grasp of any organisation – provided managers are prepared to be inventive and let go of past certainties.”

Brendan O’Keefe, Managing Director, Epic Ltd

These ideas have energised me and my business to make changes that have increased our bottom line and made people more successful and fulfilled at work”

Simon Perriton, Chief Executive, Just-IT

“If a four day programme on Leadership, coaching and creating a happier workplace is what your organisation needs then sign up below”

The Happy Workplaces 4 Day Programme -sign up here

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a happy week ahead.

Stephen 0874150077

Is there such a thing as Worklife balance?

19 Aug

If you think that your life only happens outside of work and everything within work has nothing to do with Life.. well that’s F@#*ed.

When Stevie Wonder wrote and recorded Songs in the Key of Life at the Crystal sound studios in Hollywood, as he sat in his studio he wasn’t tempted to substitute  the word life for work because he had clocked into work to record the album. To him recording that album was life too. It’s all life. Can’t imagine Stevie clocked in each day either.

Yet we separate Life and work constantly because Life is seen as the good stuff and work represents the drudge and banality of our existence so we can merely have more of the good stuff(Life). We are guilty of separating the two as if neither had any connection to the other. You don’t hand over the keys to life experiences at the door of your workplace when you enter each day and pick them up again as you leave. While sitting at your desk, driving your truck or designing a skyscraper you are wrapped up in all the emotions and reality of your life,neither are separate. If you can cry or laugh while you are work …that is living.

The words we associate with both words also define how we think of them. Work hard, sacrifice, workplace stress, work rate, overwork. There is even a word for death by overwork in Japanese called “karoshi” and in China its called “guolaosi”

Life is affirming, beautiful and wonderful and very much connected with the now.

Yet we use language that connects work to experiences that we would rather avoid.

Work hard- Play hard.. what bullshit. Who thought of connecting the word play with hard. How many schools and nurseries are littered with instructions for younger versions of us to play hard when break time comes around. If play was hard it’s unlikely any four-year old  would ever bother with it.


“I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution


Play is fun and as outlined in the Sawyer effect when work becomes play the magic happens. It is when we separate Life and work and play becomes work that our motivators in life are lost and this is when we are most likely to want to treat work as an external to our lives


“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
― Alan W. Watts


On a daily basis we get asked “How is work?” but we rarely if never get asked “How is Life? as if one is easier to answer than the other. Yet both are one. If your life experiences while at work are effecting your relationships and health. Then you may be in the wrong job or with the wrong company. The more you separate the two the greater the resentment for the one you like least appears. The solutions to this will come in another post but the truth is that…..

There is no work life balance, there is only Life. It’s all Life.

The Sawyer effect

5 Jul

When it comes to work we are either motivated to do the task in hand or not. An orchestra conductor lost in the Beethoven’s 5th is transfixed in the music and the melody of the moment and unless very strapped for cash is not thinking of the financial reward for directing the strings and brass musicians. Neither is the artist lost in the flow of colours, mood and imagination with his easel and paint at hand.

Anyone sitting on the end of a production line repeating the same task throughout their 8 hour shift  rarely experience this. They will only realise this intrinsic motivation when they spend their weekends hiking through a mountain landscape or flying model airplanes at their local club on a Sunday morning.

How do we get excited about tasks that give us little or no internal reward for completing them? The last thing Tom Sawyer wants to do is spend his day whitewashing Aunt Polly’s  800 sq ft fence. Ben arrives and teases Tom about his lack of freedom and having to work. Tom seeing an opportunity to turn the tables and lighten his load tells Ben that not just anyone can do this job. “Aunt Polly is awful particular about the outside” Ben’s desire to whitewash the fence spikes and he offers Tom the rest of his apple and a brass door knob. Tom accepts, and gets rewarded and once Ben gets a chance to paint that fence an internal satisfaction sets in. Soon all Toms friends arrive and before long they are all painting the fence for no other reason than Tom Sawyer instilled the desire to do so. This is the Sawyer effect in action. Turning work into play. Outlined very well in Daniel H Pinks recommended book Drive

The opposite can happen as Mark Leper and David Greene discovered in an experiment the mid 1970’s when they split up three groups of preschool kids who enjoyed spending their free play time, drawing.

Group One was offered a “Good player” certificate with a blue  ribbon and their name on it. They then asked the child if they wanted to draw to receive the reward. The second group were asked if they wanted to draw and if they did they received an unexpected reward of the Good player certificate, this was unexpected. Group Three were simply asked if they wanted to play and received no reward for drawing.

Two weeks later during free play time. The teachers left out markers, pens and paper for students to draw. Group number two and three the unexpected and no reward group drew as much during the free time as they had done previously. But group one who had learnt to expect a reward spent less time drawing during free time. The Sawyer affect had reversed and turned play into work resulting in a drop in desire for what was previously an enjoyable task.

We can harness the positives of the Sawyer effect if we provide workplaces were people feel they have a sense of autonomy over what happens in work. They control the environment and it’s outcomes as much as they can.

  • Are your staff given the tools to do what they are best and play to their strengths each day?
  • Is your workplace a place where people are treated well and fairly and allowed to feel good about themselves?.
  • Do you encourage fun at work and allow people to express their ideas?

Work is work but when we  harness the playful and fun side to it we ultimately change the meaning of work for us.

Are financial rewards killing your company? .

15 Jun


In 1949 when Harry Harlow tested his pin hook puzzles on caged monkeys he never expected the result that transpired. Quite quickly the monkeys began finding out how to solve the puzzles and within the space of two weeks became quite adept at it. Here’s the rub, Harlow had not offered the monkeys any incentive or reward for executing the puzzle. Nothing at all , no food or water or the chance to play in a larger cage with other primates. Something else drove the monkeys to complete the puzzle and it couldn’t have been an external factor. Something had stirred inside and led the Monkeys to want to complete the task for no other reason than it felt satisfying. Really!

Twenty years later, in 1969 Edward Deci of Carnegie Mellon took this experiment up a level. Well to the human level. Deci split a number of people into two groups. Lets say Group 1 and Group 2. Deci introduced  the group to Soma puzzles. They are Tetris/Rubiks cube like puzzles. Deci asked them to complete three puzzles. After puzzle two was completed Deci said he was introducing a fourth puzzle, between puzzle two and the start of puzzle three Deci said he had to leave the room and input the data from the results of  first two puzzles into a mainframe computer and would be back shortly. In the room with the participants was a number of magazines the group could read in the downtime if they wished.

Deci left the room and had no intention of inputting results into a computer. He spent the next eight minutes exactly observing the group through a two-way mirror. He discovers that both groups spent on average 3.5 minutes of the eight minutes working with the puzzle pieces trying to work them out.

On day two he mixed it up a little. He told Group 1 that he was providing a reward of $1 (about €7 in today’s money) for each puzzle correctly solved. Group 2 unaware of this,were to complete the puzzles once again with no reward. Again after puzzle two was completed Deci left the room once again for exactly eight minutes on the pretence of  inputting data into the mainframe.  The results were a little predictable but exciting too. Group 1 who had been rewarded monetarily for completing the puzzles had spent more time during that eight minute gap working out how the puzzles aligned. Group 2 were similar as the day before spending roughly 3.5 minutes on average working on the task in the downtime.Here we had the evidence, pay people an extrinsic reward and they will become more interested in the task and ultimately perform better. Money as a motivator works.

On Day three Deci told Group 1( the group that had received the financial reward the day before) that the money had dried up and that there was no financial reward for solving the puzzles today. Group 2 once again were to complete the task as given with no mention of a reward.

Group 1 with their dollars from Yesterday tucked away in their wallets started the task as usual but something changed. In their eight minutes downtime Group 1 spent significantly less time working on the puzzles than the day before. Finding more interest in the magazines provided than the puzzles in front of them. The motivation hadn’t lasted. Take away the financial reward and why would you do something for free.

But it doesn’t end there… Group 2, who had never received a financial incentive over the three days had suddenly by the third day spent longer during the eight minutes downtime than any other day working on the puzzle. Group 2 had now become the group with greater motivation and group 1 had become unmotivated. Lack of financial rewards had demotivated Group 1. But what had motivated Group 2? Was there a link to the Harlow experiments in 1949. Had something internally driven the monkeys to complete the pin and lock tasks and likewise had something internal motivated Group 2 on day three to spend more time working out how to solve a task.

Hang on though! We had witnessed the financial incentive working so maybe we just need to toy around with that. Maybe we need to offer financial rewards consistently and motivation will increase.

tennis balls

Dan Ariely decide to look at this India in 2008. He took 87 participants and spit them into three groups. They then had to perform a series of tasks ,like placing metal puzzle pieces into a plastic frame,throwing tennis balls at a target, a numerical memory game and other cognitive tasks. The participants in their three groups were all provide with various financial rewards for completing the tasks. Group 1 receiving 1 days pay. Group 2 received the equivalent of two weeks pay( nice money in any man’s language). Group 3 received a whopping five months pay on completion of the tasks. The results were astounding. Group 1 and 2’s results were similar but Group 3 who were offered an incredible five months pay as a reward for completing the task performed the worst!! What!!

What had happened here. Would the prospect of receiving a large monetary reward not spur you on to perform better. Apparently not. A few year later Ariely took a similar experiment to M.I.T in Boston and used some  grad students. This experiment involved two tasks. One was a cognitive skill ( adding numbers)that required the use of the brain the other was a simple mechanical tapping skill( an algorithmic task) that required tapping a button as fast as possible.  The students were offered rewards of $60-$600 depending on performance of the tasks.

All students performed well and were rewarded well for the tapping task  the higher the pay the better the performance but once again when money was on the table with the cognitive task just like in India and in Decis 1969 Soma puzzle test it led to a poorer performance.

Money as a motivator does not work as we expected. As in Decis Soma puzzle experiment and in Arielys series of experiment it indicates that finacial rewards lead to lower motivation and poorer performance. It can provide greater incentives in short bursts for jobs that require little cognitive skills like a factory production line or a garment factory worker.

With the rise of automation and outsourcing the jobs that our grandparents would have been employed in are no longer as evident in our societies. Look around your workplace and work out how many jobs involve the need for cognitive attachment rather than the linear robotic jobs of yesteryear and you will realise that the way we work is changing and as we can see from above the way we need to be incentivized is too.

We have spent the last 70 years trying to work out why those monkeys wanted to solve Harlow’s pin lock puzzle and we know its not from an external promise or “If-Then” reward. If it’s not external then the only driver we have left is internal. We have now entered the age of the internal or intrinsic reward and it changes completely, how we view work and what motivates us while we are there..


8 Jun

Gallup have just produced a report on Millennials in the workplace and it has thrown up some very interesting insights into the way that future of work is changing.

Millennial are those born between 1980 and 2000 what are presently in the workplace or are just entering it now. They see the world differently. They are more informed due to their constant connection to information on smartphones and social media. 71% of them get news about national or international issues from the internet and only 3% access newspapers for the same information. This is comparison with 51% of  Generation X’ers relying on the internet for their source of information. Baby boomers drop down to 30% for internet referencing ,mainly relying on television as their source of news with a 50% participation level in this form of media compared to Millennials 15% use of TV for a news source. The way we access information is changing and it is affecting the way we view the world.

Millennials are wrapped in the immediacy of modern life. Emails take too long. Text messages need a quick reply. They live in a world of engagement so they want a workplace that responds to this. So you either tailor the workplace to them or keep the rules that some Baby boomer or Gen Xer thought was only way to keep people in line and ultimately die in the modern world of business.

Here is how the millennial sees the new workplace for them.

Past                                              Future

My Paycheque                                        My Purpose

My Satisfaction                                     My Development

My Boss                                                   My Coach

My Annual review                                My ongoing conversations

My Weaknesses                                    My Strengths

My Job                                                      My Life

Here are the top five factors Millennials look for when applying for a job.

  1. Opportunity to learn and grow
  2. Quality of Management
  3. Quality of Manager
  4. Interest in types of work.
  5. Opportunities for advancement.

With this in mind 50% of Millennials reckon they don’t see a future in the company that they presently work for. When it comes to engagement 55% are not feeling the love at work. So 36% of those Millennials report that they will look for a job with a different organisation within the next 12 months.

The difference in how we see work is evident from the new needs of the workers within and entering our workplaces as outlined above. It is imperative that we cater as organisations to these new needs of a more informed, ambitious and better educated member of the workforce who realises there is no work life balance …it’s all the one.

Just as you have a grasp on how the Millennials are transforming the way we work, think and act….you see Generation Z coming over the hill and realise that sitting still for very long is a thing of the past.


Five Questions to a happier workforce

1 Jun


I will keep this short. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman have a great book “First break all the rules’ Both Marcus and Curt have worked for Gallup in numerous roles . Gallup has for more than 60 years  led as world leaders in the measurement and analysis of human attitudes, opinions and behaviour.

Keeping it brief and without explanation here are 5 questions that every employee within an organisation should be able to answer yes to. If not there is work to be done in reaching that goal of workplace satisfaction and more. Here they are.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment to do my work right?
  3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?

Get five Yes’s from your employees and its Happy days. If not.. talk to your employers and  find out what you need to do to change the result. The answers will give you clearer idea on what you need to do to achieve this. Simple

Is the 6 hour work week around the corner?

25 May

Why do we 8 hours or more a day? Because we always have done!

Why have we always done? I think Henry Ford came up with it!

Why did Henry think 8 hours was best? He wanted to give his workers free time to realize they needed to buy stuff.

Was it not something scientific that he had based on improving worker health and wellbeing? Not really but Ford thought “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” Henry Ford cut the working week from 6 to 5 days, doubled the wages from $2.34 for a nine-hour day to $5.00 for an eight-hour day and in return gained greater productivity. The results spoke for themselves. Workplaces quickly followed suit maybe not doubling the wages but shortening the working day and week.

Now it seems it is time to question the 8 hour working day. Do we really work for the whole 8 hours or more we are in work? To be honest it’s unlikely. We become our most creative and imaginative when we are looking for outlets that are not work. We spend ages with Dave trying to fix the photo copier feeder when really we have no clue how it works simply because it feels better than working( and it looks like work) . We volunteer to nip to the coffee shop down the road for everyone because it’s a break from work ,something interesting could happen on the way and it is work related so technically it’s work but with more chance of excitement. Many of us would quite happily volunteer to  jump in the car if needed and travel for an hour to deliver a package to the other side of the city  if it was urgent. Tunes on the radio and a new visual landscape . Happy days.

Although for some of us work is engaging and stimulating for many, most of the working day is spent thinking about activities we would rather be doing than sitting at this desk. Or we engage in activities that take us away from that working space in our head, social media updates on our laptop/Phone, online news feeds, emails from friends, researching and booking holidays etc. The truth is for most workers we would rather be somewhere else doing something different.

We could create a workplace like Google with all the benefits of free food , ergonomics and workplace stimuli but that can create burnout and it’s not home. As much as we would like to create positive relationships with our co-workers, they are no replacement for our family(or maybe they are).

Why not create a work environment where people can be their best, play to their strengths and simply go home. Jason Friend of Basecamp is a big proponent of shorter working weeks. “I wanted to do something about this. So, at 37signals, the software company I’ve run for the past 13 years, we take inspiration from the seasons and build change into our work schedule.

For example, from May through October, we switch to a four-day workweek. And not 40 hours crammed into four days, but 32 hours comfortably fit into four days. We don’t work the same amount of time, we work less. When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time

The Gothenburg experiment with the 6hr working day is trialling at the minute in Svartedalens nursing home in southern Sweden. Early reports are good.An audit published in mid-April concluded that the program in its first year had sharply reduced absenteeism, and improved productivity and worker health. A year’s worth of data from the project, which compares staff at Svartedalens with a control group at a similar facility, showed that 68 nurses who worked six-hour days took half as much sick time as those in the control group. And they were 2.8 times less likely to take any time off in a two-week period. There has been opposition from politicians.“It’s the type of economic thinking that has gotten other countries in Europe into trouble,” said Maria Rydén, Gothenburg’s deputy mayor and a member of the opposition Moderates party. She is leading a campaign to kill the trial, citing high taxpayer costs and arguments that the government should not intrude in the workplace.

We can’t pay people to not work,” she added.

Workers in a nearby Toyota service centre have been working a 6 hour working day for the past 13 years with no plans to reverse it. The benefits to the workers and service centre are too evident. Greater production over 6 hours rather than 8 and more family downtime to do activities in life that make us happier.

Asking your staff what would work for them to become more productive might surprise you. A shorter working week as a trial might not be a bad thing. One Friday a month and see if the world stops turning. Or one week of working 30 hours per month. We are imaginative beings and ultimately flexibility is the key to the future workplace if we want to survive. Use that imagination.

Netflix embraced the flexible workplace years ago.” We should focus on what people get done., not how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a 9-5 policy we don’t need a vacation policy” said Patty MCcord who is feted with creating the culture within Netflix. “There is a no clothing policy at Netflix but no one turns up to work naked.” In 2015 Netflix also announced that all employees would be entitled to unlimited parental leave at their choosing. Can we begin to seesaw trust is becoming a major factor in the new workplaces. Think about this are your best relationships and friendships with people you trust and can communicate well with or with people who you fear and openly distrust. The answer is here.

If you are willing to spend your weekend responding to worker texts and emails be prepared to embrace a shorter, flexible and more productive working week.

I started this article with the 3 Why’s that helps you look at what you do from a more crtical position. So start with this at your next meeting.

Why do we think that a 40 hour week is our only option?







Do you ever feel like this?

29 Apr

Is this your Life?

Who worked less hours the medieval peasant or the 21st century worker?

9 Mar

14th Century worker

Is the 40 hr working week a thing of the past? You would hope so.

Did you know that in the 14th century the average casual labourer worked 1440 hrs a year. OECD figures for 2013 show us that the average UK worker worked 1,669 hours last year with Greece putting in a whopping 2,037 and the Netherlands enjoying a 1380 hr working year. The USA worked 1,788 which possibly could be higher due to the large number of part-time work and multiple jobs held by Statesiders.

Working conditions may have been a lot different in the 14th century  and have been dictated by seasons and weather. Workers at that time also found many reasons to celebrate a high number of seasonal festivals and stop working when they had made enough money. There was no material goods on hand in shops that required excessive need for money.Working hours were shorter and life was celebrated.

Although by the time of the industrial revolution working hours had got out of hand when seasons, lighting and weather did not dictate the amount of work a man could do. By 1840 the average UK worker worked between 3105-3588 hours a year… Gulp!! But luckily for those aged 9-13 yrs old the 1833 Factory Act had limited their working day to a meagre 8 hrs and those aged 14-18 only had to work 12 hours of their day. The 19th century became the period when workers realised that there was more to life than toiling. The first murmurings that changes were on the way came at around the 1840’s. Samuel Duncan Parnell a carpenter by trade in New Zealand “There are twenty-four hours per day,eight of these should be of work,eight for sleep and the remaining eight for recreation and in which men to do what little things they want for themselves

It was really midway through the 20th century that the 8 hr working day became a realisation and law for many countries.With countries like France in 1936 through the Matignon agreements and the US in 1938 through the Fair labour standards Act, the 8 hour day became a changed way of working. Electricity, lighting with mechanical modernisation allowed greater efficiencies and less manual input.

John Maynard Keynes even spoke about the 15 hour working week becoming a possibility by 2030. With giant technological and computerised advancements and a world of automation you would have thought that the 15hr week would have become reality for many as we move through the 21st century. Allowing man to spend time educating himself, developing a greater personal wellbeing and creating communities that benefit everyone. But the rise of consumerism was something that Keynes never foresaw.  Governments unease at having a large number of their population with time to think and possibly… revolt is probably a factor too. To be honest we have not developed societies that know how to cater for mass free time or know how to fund it. With the eventual introduction of Universal basic income we might see a change to this.

In the Netherlands were the average working week is 29 hours and a World Happiness ranking of 4th place it looks like there are benefits to working shorter hours. With 15 years to go until we hit 2030 it looks unlikely that we will hit the 15 hour working week, unless you count the arrival of zero hours contracts which have no benefit to the employee.

My belief that shorter more efficient working weeks benefit everyone. I have written about it on numerous occasions. We should grasp technology and automation and start to develop communities and societies that integrate wellbeing with work. With more emphasise on wellbeing than work.The idea that man is incomplete unless he has employment is a fallacy. We just haven’t thought hard enough about the possibilities we could replace work with. The Medieval worker would have gladly grasped the development of Steam power and machine tools that drove the Industrial revolution but would have baulked at the idea of handing over all their free time and a 150 day working year. A working year that in 2015 many of us would still envy.

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