How Productivity Creates Purpose, And The Four Day Work Week

December 11, 2022 00:18:32
How Productivity Creates Purpose, And The Four Day Work Week
The Josh Bersin Company
How Productivity Creates Purpose, And The Four Day Work Week

Dec 11 2022 | 00:18:32

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Show Notes

In this podcast I break down the big issue of "purpose at work," which is one of the biggest challenges companies face. How do we create a work environment and set of experiences, programs, and management practices that engage people with a sense of Purpose? And why does "reducing work time" actually make so much sense? As you'll hear, this is not as philosophical as it sounds - there are a lot of pragmatic solutions here, and I took some time to decompose them for you. I also talk about Happiness, and how most of the research about happiness teaches us even more about how to be better leaders, managers, teammates, and HR professionals. Additional Resources Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World's Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations How To Build A Happy Life, by Arthur Brooks Our New Role: Bringing Kindness To Work The Four Day Work Week
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:08 We talk about purpose and meaning at work, somewhat philosophical discussion, but actually something that's very pragmatic and practical and a strategy to make your company more successful. And the reason I decided to talk about this is yesterday I had a long talk with Friday with the CLO of Boeing and some folks from BetterUp. And we talked about employee experience and hybrid work and benefits and wellbeing and trust. And the question kept getting up, where does this end? How do we pull this all together into something simple? As I've learned from my book Irresistible and all of my conversations with thousands of companies over the years, it really comes down to some pretty simple things. So let me start with the basics and then I want to give you some very specific examples of things that you can do. So basically every survey or study that's ever been done on employee engagement and retention seems to come up with the same findings. Speaker 1 00:01:08 That the things that really matter are not pay or benefits or your relationship with your manager, but that certainly contributes. But it's your sense of trust, your sense of belonging. Do you feel that you belong in the organization? Your ability to grow and develop yourself and progress as a person, as a professional, and your fit with the job and the company. Is it a job that leverages your skills? Is it a job that you enjoy? And do you enjoy the tasks and activities in the job? And is the company doing something that you feel is important to you? So these are all sort of big topics. They sound simple when you say them in words, but they're very, very complex to create. So what I'm gonna do for the next couple minutes is talk about how these things get created. Then I wanna talk a little bit about happiness and how happiness pulls us all together. Speaker 1 00:02:03 So first of all, you know, trust is a combination of three things. First is competence is the organization and the job doing things well so I can trust it. The second is ethics. Is the organization and the team fair and open and willing to discuss things that don't seem fair? Or is it very political and biased? And of course, if it is, the latter people are not happy. At least some people are not. And the third is, do people listen? And even though that sounds silly, it's actually a big problem in companies. Many, many companies and many leaders don't know how or have built in systems that prevent or avoid listening. And listening is incredibly important for you as an HR person, but really for the company as a whole. Now, when I was talking to Kirsten at Boeing, which has been through a lot, Boeing has a new program focused entirely on listening, honest discussions and feedback. Speaker 1 00:03:05 And this has been introduced over the last few years. And the leaders and the managers and the practitioners, everybody in Boeing practices this. And what they're trying to do is make sure Boeing is an open, collaborative, discussion oriented culture where people can raise issues. Now let me talk for just a minute about Boeing. When I was graduating from college in 1978 as an engineer, mechanical engineer, Boeing was one of the most highly revered employers in the world. It certainly was a place I wanted to work. I interviewed there, I got a job offer. I decided not to work there primarily because I didn't want to go to Seattle at that time, cuz in the seventies, Seattle was basically a Boeing town. So I went back to the Bay area, but it was a great company. And Boeing in some ways invented commercial aviation. The 7 0 7, the 7 27, the 7 37, those were pioneering innovative, high quality products that change the world and they still do. Speaker 1 00:04:04 And there's really only one major competitor to Boeing, Airbus. So whether the company has problems or not, and they obviously did, but they're getting through that they are in a pioneering, enduring organization. As I talk about in my book, Kirsten was telling us that people at Boeing work there a long, long time. They don't leave. They love each other, they love the company, they love the mission of the company. They feel committed to the safety and innovation of their products. And so the leaders have to listen to that and reflect and use that information to make the company better. By the way, that is a magnificent culture to create it. It's hard to create a company like that. I think a lot of these high growth startups and tech companies never consider what it will be like when the company's 30, 40, 50 years old. Some do. Speaker 1 00:04:51 Microsoft has become an enduring company. Cisco has become an enduring company. Chevron is an enduring company, but, but it's not as easy as you think. So Boeing is a great example and they're building their culture around listening, honest reactions and feedback, which is a form of trust. Now the second area of meaning and purpose is belonging. Do I belong in this company? Do I feel that I fit here? Do I see people like me? Will people listen to me? Is my voice heard? Is my demographic or my race or my gender or my age respected in the company? These are d e I issues as you know, but they really have a big impact on somebody's feelings of belonging. I just had a conversation with an employee at our company, wasn't unhappy about something and it had to do with work and workload. But what it really came down to as we discussed it was her sense that maybe she didn't belong because of something that had happened that she wasn't aware of. Speaker 1 00:05:49 And once we explained what was going on, it was completely fine. But I could tell that when somebody feels they don't belong, they check out, they silently quit or they or they literally quit and it's hard to get them back. And belonging is the responsibility of the leadership team, the management team, the team leaders and the HR department. And again, one of the things that creates belonging is listening, paying attention, avoiding bias, having pay equity programs and other programs that force transparency so people don't feel that they're being treated unfairly, which leads them to not feel like they belong. And just general respect and goodwill and recognition. Recognition is another big topic. We've written several studies on it, but companies that have a high recognition culture have 70% lower voluntary turnover. Big, big difference. What that means is not just throwing around thank yous, it means honestly caring for and thanking people for the work they do. Speaker 1 00:06:51 It sounds pretty simple, but it has a huge impact on companies feel, individuals feeling of belonging and connection to the rest of the organization. The third area of mission and purpose is the job. Now, the job of course has many, many aspects to your life, to the individual's life. Does the individual have the skills to do the job? There's a concept in healthcare called working at the top of license. What that means is if, if you are a nurse and you're trained to be a clinical nurse, you should be doing nursing, you should be taking care of patients, you shouldn't be cleaning the floors, taking out the trash, scheduling people doing paperwork all day. You should get somebody else to do that. So one of the things that makes work meaningful is people doing the things that they want to do and that they're good at and not doing the things they don't wanna do and they're not good at. Speaker 1 00:07:40 And obviously there's always some of that. And that's a job design and an organizational design initiative that does fall into our laps in hr. It also means creating work that is achievable. Now this gets into the issue of productivity. Productivity's gonna be a big topic next year. We're gonna talk about it a lot. We're doing a big research project on it. And many, many studies have proven, and I've come to this conclusion myself, that productivity creates love and employee engagement with the job. When people can get things done, when they can serve their clients or their customers, they feel better about their work. It's that simple. And if you're getting in the way of that, you're reducing the sense of productivity and engagement and therefore the sense of mission and purpose for these people. Let me give you an example of how challenging this can be. Speaker 1 00:08:30 I was on the phone with the telecommunications company on Friday. They did a massive survey of some kind across their whole population and they asked him about burnout and what's causing it and if they feel it and so forth. And one of the questions that came back was that 69% of the workers that's a lot felt that they were overworked by their manager. Their manager was wasting their time with meetings, interrupting them, giving them too much to do and burning them out. That has to stop now as you'll be reading about in the predictions and the work we're gonna publish next year. Adding more work to a full plate does not improve productivity. It's pretty obvious you can't add water to a full teapot as my wife likes to say. So we have to think about what will help people get their jobs done in a more productive way. Speaker 1 00:09:22 And let me mention a couple of interesting stories here. The four day work week, which was an experiment a couple years ago, and I wasn't too crazy about it when I first heard about it, is actually worked. So let me take a minute and tell you what it is. Some researchers in the UK started an initiative to help companies design their organizations around four days of work instead of five, but you still pay people the same amount of money. So you basically are paying the same wages for 32 hours instead of 40 hours. And about 70 companies of signed up for this and they are doing it and they're developing new work practices and schedules to accommodate the four day workweek. Guess what? The initial results show that 94, 90 5% of these companies and their employees through surveys feel much less burned out and much less overloaded, number one. Speaker 1 00:10:14 Number two, there's no reduction in work going on. And many of the companies said they're getting more work done. I'll talk about why this is in a minute. So there's an interesting phenomenon that more hours does not equal more work and more activities does not equal more output. I think we all know that, but we go a little bit nuts with the meetings and the emails and those text messages and the checking in. I saw something the other day on LinkedIn that somebody said you should check in with your teammates multiple times a day. I don't think so. Let them check in with you when they want to talk to you. Now, second story I want to mention about this overwork thing is some work I did for the book irresistible. So in my book there's a lot of discussion about slack time and slack Time means designing in extra time or capacity in the system so people can think and plan and develop themselves and come up with new ideas and fix things and so forth. Speaker 1 00:11:10 Well, while I was writing the book, I locked it lots and lots of research and one of the studies I found was a meta study of 50 different manufacturing companies in Germany. And some researchers had looked at the number of parts or machines produced per day, per month, per week relative to the number of hours. Worked very easy to run those numbers. And across 50 or so companies, they found that the optimum number of hours per week for workers to work in these manufacturing plants was between 45 and 50 hours. And there was a curve and it actually goes down above that number. So in other words, if people work 55 hours a week or 60 hours a week, they get less done, less output, less total output than if they worked fewer hours. And I'm sure that's because they're tired, they're slowing down, they're making mistakes, they're fixing things, they're goofing off whatever. Speaker 1 00:12:02 So we need to design slack time into the system. When I was first developing the irresistible model that is talked about in the book and other places in our research, I talked a lot about slack time and when the tools slack came out, everybody thought it was a stupid idea, but I'm gonna come back to it now. Many studies have shown, including in the retail industry, in manufacturing, in other places, when you give people slack time, when you design more extra time into the operation and give people fewer things to do, they will become more productive. And the reason for that is they have time to make work better. In two companies that were studied in, one of the books I read, Costco, which you all know very well in Mercona, which is a very successful retailer in Spain, they found that when the stores in the retail stores were overstaffed, they had essentially quote unquote too many people working those days, they had better profitability in those stores because those extra people cleaned the shelves, talked to the customers, fix things, sweep the floors, did things to make work better. Speaker 1 00:13:09 So that is a contributor to purpose in meaning because it's a contributor to productivity, which is a contributor to a sense of accomplishment. Okay, so lots and lots of things there. The final thing of course is the purpose and mission of your company. And I won't spend a lot of time on that cuz you all probably know about that. What does your company stand for? Ultimately? What is your company trying to accomplish? Are you a bank that's trying to make a profit or are you in the business of making people's financial lives better? Are you in the business of making it easier for people to live better lives, et cetera? Those are obviously very important contributors as well. Now second thing I wanna talk to before I run outta time is happiness. Yesterday I was listening to the Happiness podcast from the New York Times, which my wife encourages me to listen to all the time. Speaker 1 00:13:58 And the author had a researcher from Harvard and he was talking about the fact that all the research they've done, there are four dimensions to happiness. The first is spirituality, a belief in something bigger than yourself and bigger than the day-to-day life, whether that be God or art or music or nature or something, the cosmos, whatever it may be. The second is your family, the people that are always there for you, the people that care for you the most, the people that always love you regardless of the situation that will be there for you through thick and thin. The third is your relationships to others, your friends, your associates, your partners, the people you talk to and interact with. And the fourth is your work. Well, if you think about those four things that drive happiness, obviously the fourth one we have a lot of influence over actually influence the first three. Speaker 1 00:14:50 Also in terms of spirituality. If you as a company define your mission in an altruistic beneficial way to society or to the audiences you serve, people will feel a sense of spiritual connection to your company. I know when I was in Europe and I met with Ikea, and I've talked to IKEA before, IKEA is in the business of bringing beautiful designs to everyday life, which is a very glorious idea. Target is in the business of making everyday life better for every family of all income. Another glorious idea, I talk to a bank in Western Canada who defines their mission as bringing happiness to families through financial services. You get the picture, you're not in the business of selling product X and making a profit. That is the way you accomplish your mission. Whatever your mission wave may be. Patagonia is in the mission of saving the climate and the planet and they sell products and services to do that, to accomplish that. Speaker 1 00:15:47 Number two, in the area of family, if you force people to work 80 hours a week, they're not spending much time with their family. So we can do lots of things to help people become closer to the family. We can have family activities, we can give people more time off. We can be generous with leave. We can celebrate their children and their marriages and their family events. We can get to know their family. Those are all really important parts of making people happy and giving them people purpose at work. In the area of connections, this gets back to what I was talking about. Most great companies have lots of friendships at work. I've had four or five companies I've worked in where I made incredible friends. Some of them I've lost touch with over the years, and I don't tend to generally talk to work people outside of the work hours too much. Speaker 1 00:16:33 But many companies are filled with friendships that are developed for years and years later, especially young people who are in a part of their lives where they're not necessarily married and they don't have a cluster of children related friends yet they're really important. So you have a big influence on that factor of happiness. And then of course the fourth one is the work itself, which I talked about earlier. So, so mission and purpose at work is not as mysterious or grandiose as you might think. We all can help here and we all should because no matter what your job is in hr, management, leader, whatever, obviously you wanna do your job well and you wanna get paid and you wanna get the results that your boss wants and that the company wants. But the how is all about inspiring people and motivating people and giving people a sense of growth so they can try new things and push the envelope. And if you take advantage of the things I talked about in this podcast, your employees will work harder and they will contribute more and you as a professional and HR person or a leader will feel better about your job and your life too. Thank you for listening. I hope this was helpful. Have a great week.

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