How many hours should I work?

first_img Comments are closed. Although my company talks a good talk on work-life balance, there is clearlyan unspoken view by the board that the ‘serious’ managers are those that work50 or 60 hours a week. Personally I am quite happy to work long hours, but asan HR manager I feel I should set a good example. Any advice? Claire Coldwell, consultant, Chiumento As an HR manager, your role is to ensure the company operates legally andthat appropriate HR policies are devised and used. Most people who are enthused about their work are happy to work long hours,but no-one likes to be taken for granted, or see people being promoted simplyfor working unreasonable hours. In the long term, morale takes a dive andpeople leave. What is important is to be seen to work effectively. No-one is fooled byunproductive people staying late into the evening, and the board needs to bemade aware of that. Is the policy appropriate if it is being ignored at senior level?Investigate the reasons for this happening – are people unable to delegate? Arepeople inadequately skilled? Does the nature of your business mean that longhours are frequently necessary? Whether it is a training, recruitment orcultural issue, you, as HR manager, are accountable. It is not enough to simply provide a good example – your role is tochallenge if policy is not working in practice. Suzanne Taylor, HR consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes Your company is certainly not alone in its attitude to long hours, despitehaving the best intentions to encourage its employees to take a balancedapproach. As a recent article in Personnel Today pointed out, the UK tops thelist of the longest working hours in Europe. Working time legislation has sofar failed to significantly change attitudes to the long-hours culture and inreality this won’t happen until examples are set at the most senior levels ofbusiness. Having said this, there are times when it can be healthier to work longhours – avoiding the stress caused if tasks are rushed through or notcompleted. There are many who may be labelled as ‘workaholics’ but who do findimmense satisfaction from a long day’s work. You cannot take the weight of responsibility for your own company’s approachto long hours, and it is not your responsibility to make others change the paceof their work or decide whether or not they are happy to stay late. However, it is sensible and wise to set a good example. Perhaps you couldmake a point by leaving the office on time at least occasionally, or to take afull hour for lunch once in a while. Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMSConsultancy There seems to be an issue here that goes deeper than just work-lifebalance. Your comments on what the board says and what they expect demonstratesa lack of clear direction from a people management viewpoint. Your role is toinfluence good people management policies, not support poor working practices. Working 50 to 60 hours per week has been shown to cause stress. Also, thereis research that clearly demonstrates long hours result in a drop inperformance. This message needs to be put across to the board. Look forevidence such as turnover figures, higher than average sickness and qualityissues to make your point. It might be interesting to question your own values– why are you happy to work such long hours? Previous Article Next Article How many hours should I work?On 23 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more