Overworked - Is it time for a change in our society?

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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:26 pm

:twisted:
I'm closing down the computer for the day. Tomorrow, the main gate is shut for some ceremonial bushwah so I'm going to help the anticipated traffic jam by not attending. The idea of coming in for Friday after taking Thursday off didn't sound appealing. Monday is a holiday.

I'll be back Tuesday. Five day weekend, here I come!
>^..^<
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Postby analog » Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:27 pm

From that Overworked article....

.....Parents are devoting less attention to their children. Stress is on the rise, partly owing to the “balancing act” of reconciling the demands of work and family life…


The older I get the more I appreciate the wisdom of Bert in that Mary Poppins movie:

You've got to grind, grind, grind, at that grindstone; though childhood slips like sand through a sieve. And all too soon they've up and grown, and then they've flown... And it's too late for you to give.


Where I worked there was in middle management a frenzy - in at 5:30AM, out at 7PM as if they were competing to show who worked the hardest. I attributed it to what Eric Hoffer observed in his book "Ordeal of Change":

"There is a close connection between lack of confidence and the passionate state of mind, and, as we shall see, passionate intensity may serve as a substitute for confidence. The connection can be observed in all walks of life. A workingman sure of his skill goes about his job and accomplishes much though he works as if at play. On the other hand , the workingman new to his trade attacks his work as if he were saving the world, and he must do so if he is to get anything done at all. [It is] a reaction against a loss of balance - a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one's balance and keep afloat. Faith, enthusiasm and passionate intensity in general are substitutes for the self-confidence born of experience and the possession of skill"emphasis mine - a.


Anymore hardly anybody stays in a job long enough to learn it really well. I think that's behind the "work till you drop" mentality - self sacrifice is a weak substitute for self confidence. It's an unintended consequence of our post WW2 culture of ever accelerating change. For the forseeable future, there'll be plenty of work for corporate shrinks.

Selma I admire you for the 5 day weekend. "Let's go fly a kite..........."
Cogito ergo doleo.
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Postby Schmeelkie » Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:13 pm

I'm with you Dai - but then, I actually just work 6 hrs/day, 4 days/week.

After getting my PhD, my husband and I decided that since in his field, he pretty much had to get a tenure-track job to stay in academia, and I had more options, in fact was expected to get more research experience before going tenure-track, I'd follow him whereever he got a job. So, first it was two year in Michigan - he at an adjunct position at Wayne State U, me in a study coordinator/data management position at U Michigan, Ann Arbor. That job for me was lucky - just the kind of work I wanted to be doing. 40 hours and that's all I did. When the clock hit 5, I was out the door. Then, since his job wasn't likely to become tenure-track, he went back on the job market and got his current position at SUNY Brockport and actually goes up for tenure this year. I started looking for a job here in Rochester, got pregnant and by 7 months, stopped looking for a while. After having Pumpkin, I waited about 3 months then started looking again. This time I focused on part-time as I knew I didn't want to jump back in at full force and wanted to more available for my family. When I interviewed for my current position, I was asked by one person, 'do you know you're grossly overqualified for this position?' I explained where I was at and that, yes someday I want to be doing my own research, but for now I just wanted to get my foot in the door and keep my brain active.

Anyway, I'm very happy where I'm at now. Always have 3 day weekends - so can get errands out of the way on Friday and still have the weekend for fun. My house is a mess and projects take forever to get done, but I have the joy of entering Pumpkin's imaginative worlds and letting Bella crawl all over me. If they're both occupied - either playing by themselves or Daddy, I'll pay the bills, wash dishes, fold clothes, but they know that I'm always available when I'm home and that's the way I want it. The people at work know that if there's a dire emergency, they can call, but hardly ever do. Usually whatever it is can wait until Monday.

My husband has the 'easy' job of being a professor - classes only 3 days a week, summers off - tons of free time right? And I get, 'why doesn't he keep the kids home on those days he's not teaching or over the summer'. Yeah, just cause you're not teaching doesn't mean you're sitting around doing nothing. He uses the summer and those two days 'off' to write papers, do committee work (which he bitches endlessly about), grade and prepare for classes. He generally works for a couple of hours in the evenings, but will help if I get overwhelmed, and works for several hours on weekends in 1-2 hour chunks when I'm not nursing Bella. But he can take a day and have fun and is much more flexible with his time. During the school year there will be weeks where he probably puts in 60 hours and other weeks where it's more like 30. The flexibility has totally helped since we had Bella. And Pumpkin is getting independent enough to play by himself for 30-60 min, get a drink or a snack and go potty with out disturbing us (maybe a question - can I eat X?). Which is great for everyone, but he does enjoy his Daddy-time (only he can read the Hobbit) and probably gets more than the average kid.

Oops - should get back to work - I've run over my lunch a bit...
"Up plus down equals flat" Pumpkin, 3 yrs, 10 mo, July '07
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Postby BigJon@Work » Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:14 pm

I honestly don't think we can unwind what we've created here in the U.S. You can thank T. Boone Pickens, Jr., Carl Icahn and Dan Bricklin for that. Between the ability to peruse infinite models and scenarios and the willingness to use that data to strip every last bit of excess value from a corporation, the toothpaste is out of the tube.
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Fri Aug 31, 2007 5:57 am

Many years ago I worked in a Union.

There was a "Minimum" quota on the volume of Telecom Messages
each person had to process each hour.

The lady sitting next to me would work for about 5-10 minutes
then sit back and read a book for 50 minutes.

One day she wanted to know why I was working so hard and
making everyone else look bad. My response to her was
if you were doing your job and not watching me, you wouldn't
know what I was doing. I was not on her Christmas list after that...

Anyway, there was nothing the supervisors could do as long as each
person did the "Minimum" in accordance with the union contract.

This is an extreme but over the past 25 years we have gotten
to a performance based, non-union environment where more
work is loaded on to employees who wind up working more hours
to get the job done.
Employees are in fear of being replaced by someone else willing to work
mega hours.....

This has to change as so many people are getting burned out.....


:owned: Labor vs. Management :owned:
Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Aug 31, 2007 6:34 am

Americans like to work. Many of them, at least in our neck of the woods, take time off to work elsewhere - in their homes, their fields, or volunteering to work for their schools, their churches, or their communities. I've known people to spend their vacations doing missionary work in Mexico, New Orleans, and elsewhere.

The cost of employing someone runs about 60% to 80% more than base salary. the cost of paying them overtime usually runs just a little over 50% more than base, so it makes sense to pay overtime instead of hiring additional workers. The cost of laying off workers during slack time is also high, and runs the risk of losing trained workers during layoff periods. Add to that the fact that you get a trained, trusted, and capable worker doing the job instead of a person of unknown calibre, and you see why employers prefer overtime to hiring additional workers during peak periods.

It is up to the employee to put his foot down and say 'enough'. True, low-skilled workers do not have a lot of leverage if they do so, but if you have made yourself a valuable and necessary part of the company unit, management is more likely to give you a friendly ear.

V/R
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:03 am

Shapley,

I have done that with my senior management team and
the response was they didn't really care, I am expected
to get all the work done....

When I asked about prioritizing my load, the answer
was it is all a priority and you have to get all your work
done on time as expected.

Our "Standard" hours are 9-5 and a 35 hour work week.

My average 50-65 hours per weeks.
Since I work in IT, we have overnight software deployments....
on top of the regular work schedule....

This is the cause of my total frustration with management
If I leave at 3 or 4pm on a given day (i am in the
office at 5:30-6A each day) instead of 5PM as they are not happy.

I'm still putting in 50-65 hours per week....

TM
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Postby BigJon@Work » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:54 am

Are you exempt?
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Postby barfle » Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:24 am

The only part of this that strikes me as recent is all the concern. I remember far too well seeing my father only on the weekends, and he was usually asleep. I am quite sure his work weeks were 80 hours, if not more. This went on for most of the 1960s and into the 1970s. Then he had two heart attacks.
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:05 am

BigJon@Work wrote:Are you exempt?


I am exempt....
Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:06 am

barfle wrote:The only part of this that strikes me as recent is all the concern. I remember far too well seeing my father only on the weekends, and he was usually asleep. I am quite sure his work weeks were 80 hours, if not more. This went on for most of the 1960s and into the 1970s. Then he had two heart attacks.


That's what I am trying to avoid...
getting sick over the stupid pressure that is put on to get "things done"
Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
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Postby Catmando » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:41 am

barfle wrote:The only part of this that strikes me as recent is all the concern. I remember far too well seeing my father only on the weekends, and he was usually asleep. I am quite sure his work weeks were 80 hours, if not more. This went on for most of the 1960s and into the 1970s. Then he had two heart attacks.


I'm sorry to hear this Barfle.

Maybe the question is: Why wasn't there the concern back then?
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Postby Shapley » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:43 am

Much of the pressure may be self-inflicted. If you're not afraid to assume extra duties, management is never afraid to assign them to you. Oftentimes those duties are assigned because the person on whose shoulders they should fall were willing to say 'no'.

I think the biggest problem we have is that we loose sight of what it is we hope to accomplish with all this work. Many of us fool ourselves into thinking that we can perform extra work to make extra money which we'll put away for later, thus the extra time spent now will be offset by more free time in the future. Few of us actually save that extra money, however. Instead, the extra money on the paycheck is calculated into our cash flow, and we leverage ourselves based on this value - we buy a bigger house, a nicer car, a vacation house we seldom use - all based on an income inflated by our extra hours. This results in a need to maintain that income level, and hours needed to produce it. It doesn't matter if you are paid hourly or on salary, mind you, because your salary is based on your worth to the company, your worth to the company is based on your productivity, and your productivity is usually boosted by the extra hours worked.

Periodically, you have to evaluate your situation and determine where you are, where you want to be, and if you are getting there.

V/R
Shapley
Last edited by Shapley on Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BigJon@Work » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:56 am

Trumpetmaster wrote:
BigJon@Work wrote:Are you exempt?


I am exempt....

So was I, I thought, but I went through the federal rules and found out that I did not qualify for exempt status and should have been paid for all my overtime. But by that time, the company had gone belly-up and there was nothing left to make claims against. :x
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Postby analog » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:09 pm

Once an organization becomes populated by workaholics, that cultlike fanatical behavior sorta becomes its culture.

If they're doing long hours because they genuinely love what they do I suppose it's healthy. The workplace will be fun and relaxed. But there's some workplaces remind one of that bridge scene in "Apocalypse Now" where everybody's shooting at random, just a frenzy. Long hours and constant crises are the norm in a sick outfit, with a few heroes working themselves into heart attacks, unaware of their role as enablers.

I saw an organization recover once. A savvy new manager put his foot down and stopped the frenzy. He insisted on doing things right, demanded excellence in work with a tyrannical intolerance for shortcuts. For the short term, production went way down but then got better as rework virtually disappeared. Prior management had blamed the line workers but this guy worked on middle management. The turnaround was so marked our whole industry took notice. It was quite a thing to witness.
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Postby Catmando » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:15 pm

Shapley wrote:Your worth to the company is based on your productivity, and your productivity is usually boosted by the extra hours worked.


Working more hours does not always equate to being more productive, or as productive.

Sometimes managers work excessive hours because they are extremely inefficient with their time, are poorly organized and are extremely micromanaging.

Yet, they "look good" for the simple fact that they are staying longer hours in the office.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:26 pm

I remember reading once that your brain is only good for six hours a day. If those hours are productive, you will accomplish the same work in a six-hour day as you would accomplish in a twelve-hour day. You get six hours of brainpower, whether you use it consequetively or spread out over the entire day. This was not a scientific work, mind you, rather a time-manager's observations.

This only applies to thought-intensive work. Obviously, you can get more ditches dug in a twelve-hour day than a six-hour day.

V/R
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Postby Haggis@wk » Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:18 pm

Shapley wrote:I remember reading once that your brain is only good for six hours a day. If those hours are productive, you will accomplish the same work in a six-hour day as you would accomplish in a twelve-hour day. You get six hours of brainpower, whether you use it consequetively or spread out over the entire day. This was not a scientific work, mind you, rather a time-manager's observations.

This only applies to thought-intensive work. Obviously, you can get more ditches dug in a twelve-hour day than a six-hour day.

V/R
Shapley


I deployed for "Desert Shield" on 08/11/90 arriving at Daharan, Saudi Arabia on the 13/14th of August. I saw G.I.s do a 48-72 hour "day" with little more than cat-naps, usually on their feet or sitting in the cab of a forklift or truck in 115 degree heat. They were unloading aircraft and how they avoid killing themselves of blowing up a C-5 was beyond me.

If you have to be up to do something that no one else can do, well, you do it. I pulled 48 hours once without a nap (that I recall, there was this strange twilight episode with a leprechaun). I was 46 at the time; don't think I could do it again.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Postby dai bread » Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:59 pm

A Company Secretary I worked for once swept his desk clear at 5pm every worknight & went home. The work wasn't done; there was just a heap of papers in a drawer, but the Managing Director thought he was great because he "cleared his desk" each day.

Then there was the company which provided a Saturday morning's work (at overtime rates) as a matter of course. Rogernomics arrived, and efficiency, downsizing, outsourcing and all the rest of the buzzwords arrived with it. The foremen were made into self-employed contractors, and their staff assigned to them. The overtime vanished; all hours worked were flat rate, but higher than previously. The work that was done Monday to Saturday was now done Monday to Friday.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Sep 03, 2007 3:38 pm

Quod scripsi, scripsi.
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