Tag Archive for: working

It’s All About Work

Today’s Political Turmoil- It’s All About Work

When I step back from this current election and crazy world events, it strikes me that there are a lot of angry, fearful people. In a recent quiet moment I had an epiphany- I believe all has to do with work and the most basic of human needs.

The first two rungs of Maslow’s needs ladder are survival and security.  Very simply in order to survive, humans have to do work. If you can’t work what use are you? Why do we even want you in this tribe? When I look around the globe I see few people with jobs shooting, rioting or blowing things up. With rare exception it’s usually the people without jobs doing these things. Without work we lose a part of our soul and can lose the capacity for caring. Useless people are dangerous people.

When I speak to my friends who don’t have jobs…or can only get menial work, their fears are very immediate. About getting enough money today to stop going backwards. To take some pressure off, at least for a short time. To keep the wolf away from the door. They are fearful, angry and see little hope on the horizon.

Knowing how employment numbers relate directly to political turmoil I think the current administration has been disingenuous with how it tallies unemployed. 5% unemployment? Does that seem like reality to you? How’s about more like 10%. When you kick in the eventual impact of advanced robotics and AI, that number may never get any lower. Ever.

To address the need for security humans attempt to keep the benefits of their labor. You survive longer that way. I think we are seeing an equally fearful and angry group of people who do work…but don’t think they get to keep enough of it. Russian serfs rioted because they worked…but kept no fruits of their labor. Middle class workers came out in droves to vote because they felt the administration wouldn’t let them keep a fair share of their fruits. It created a security crisis in them as well.

When we can’t do work or secure the benefits of labor then “the system” feels unfair. No matter where you live in the world. Makes no difference whether you’re a millionaire or working minimum wage or you are out of work. I have met few people who get an opportunity to work and keep the fruits of their labor that are discontented.

Too many young men and women across the world don’t have work to do. When they can’t fulfill that basic human need, all they have left to do is rebel against the system that puts them in that spot. If we want to end inner city shootings and global terrorism then we have to provide young people with work to do.

When it comes to those of us who are working, we want to make sure government isn’t designed to see how much of our hard earned money it can inefficiently spend. The bell has rung that we will take no more of that.

It’s all about work…and keeping the fruits of our labor.

Here’s hoping you get to meet your survival and security needs, Don

Is the 40 Hour Work Week Dying?

Last month I was presenting to Vistage CEO’s in Houston and one of them asked me about the idea proposed by one of her employees they should reconsider the 40-hour work week. She said she was given an article from Inc. magazine discussing it.  So on my flight back to San Diego from that meeting I read the article “Blowing Up The Work Week” in the December 2016 issue of INC Magazine. Forbes wrote an article on it too. Oh yeah, and so did Money /CNN , and WSJ, and every other major news and business outlet.

Here’s my two cents on it. Let’s start at the beginning.

In the early days of manufacturing it wasn’t uncommon for employees (including children) to work over 100 hours per week. Beginning in the mid 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed an 8-hour work day for government workers. In 1914 the Ford Motor Company adopted a 5-day 40-hour work week. In 1916 Congress passed the Adamson Act establishing an 8-hour work day for interstate railroad workers. In 1938 Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act limiting the work week to 44 hours, which was then amended in 1940 to reduce it to 40 hours. Those employees require to work over 40 hours would be paid time and a half to do so. You can learn more about the history of the eight hour work day at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day#United_States

And that’s how we rolled through the manufacturing era.

Then technology came along and we could herald nerds without a life working nights on end and getting rich in the process. It became de rigueur to become the hero by being the last one out the door. “Man that guy works hard.” And the divorce rate skyrocketed.

Over the last 10 years I’ve seen numerous articles and numerous companies experimenting with flexible work schedules, results only work environments, 32-hour work weeks, and more. Unfortunately many of those experiments have not worked out. I remember doing a webinar with the two women who help start ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) at BestBuy. While the program seemingly worked for few years it too was eventually canned.

Many articles wish the 40 hr. work week could come back since it seems we work more than that, not less than it. According to the WSJ article “Fifty-eight percent of managers in the U.S. report working more than 40 hours a week”.

So now let’s see what INC Magazine had to say about this:

  1. Debunk the 40-hour myth – there’s nothing “magical” about 40-hours. It’s simply a standard we have grown up with and become accustomed to. Unfortunately many managers work 50-60 hours regularly. I can remember putting in 70+ weeks as a trial lawyer. 40 plus hours is a cultural construct and a badge of honor for many.
  2. Adapt to peak-performance styles – this is about time management and flexibility. It’s how I work. Some people work best with four 10-hour days, others with five 8-hour days, and others simply part time. The point is to work at peak performance, as often as you can.
  3. Synchronize schedules – since work is often project based and a team effort, managers must be trained in coordinating schedules. One reason many managers are resistant to flexible work weeks.

What is driving much of this is the fact that many people don’t have enough time to nurture themselves or their families. We’re sleep deprived, exercise deprived and resort to fast food as a result of working too many hours. We don’t take vacations, don’t have time for real conversations, burn out and become resentful. And we taught millennials not to buy into that. So they don’t!

I for one enjoy working from 8-6 every day and I keep a very balanced lifestyle. Part of that is because I plan and manage my time well. I also have a short commute. I know of many people who work the same hours I do who feel stressed and burnt out… simply because they don’t have their time management act together.

When I managed my own employees it was always about producing results. I also realize that people (including me) tend to get work done in the time allotted for it (Parkinson’s rule). Employees could get a raise when they’re able to produce more value, not because they simply worked more hours and cost me more money as a result.

In manufacturing we went to a lean and just in time production environment. This is now coming to white collar work.


  • Flexibility
  • No ACA under 30 hrs./wk
  • Very project based
  • More time off
  • Less commute time
  • Less stress


  • Scheduling
  • Dependability
  • Child care arrangements
  • “Compressed” schedule can create additional stress
  • Difficulty to ascertain productivity or financial improvement
  • Reduced salaries

What is your concern with keeping or ditching the 40 hr. workweek? Please share your thoughts and experiences.