Smart companies consider how to get the most out of their employees without burning them out or losing their talents to competitors. The answer is not to find the absolute limit of how much work each employee can tolerate, but to provide an abundance of trust, time and resources to employees through a shortened workday.
By doing so, companies may not only survive during potentially lean times, but can also flourish if their teams have to do more with less.
Do in Five What Normally Takes Eight
Some colleagues find it surprising that my employees only work 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. I'm equally as shocked at how few other businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity to get more production out of happier employees.
Executives and managers can sometimes pounce on opportunities without thinking of the well-being of the people underneath—overscheduling workers to their breaking points. Why do we do this?
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, posits that 80 percent of our production is the result of 20 percent of our efforts. Identify that best 20 percent, and you can find ways to eliminate or better use the remaining 80 percent.
Sure, streamlining is great, but going into the process blind often helps nobody, least of all you. If you're considering implementing a similar process for your business, use the following steps to help make your move to the five-hour workday an effective one.
1. Establish your mission statement.
Many employees want to work fewer hours, but there will always be those who slack no matter how long they're on the clock; I know the response once we made the switch to a five-hour workday was positive, especially as it related to company culture and profit sharing.
Be clear that baseline targets won't change with a move to shorter days. Some workers may continue to work long hours, but the knowledge that they don't have to usually yields a more positive work environment.
2. Don't immediately throw them into the deep end.
Our company's five-hour workday began as a three-month summer trial. We didn't say this would lead to a permanent shift, but the results were so well-received that we decided to do just that.
Consider telling your team you'll be switching to a shorter schedule for a limited time, and give them a concrete end date for the experiment. By doing so, you give employees the freedom to deviate from the experiment when necessary, but also the peace of mind that they can take advantage of the new hours without being labeled a loaf.
3. Use tech to simplify the process.
Try tracking and optimizing your productivity with technology to compare eight-hour results with five-hour ones.
We quickened our tracking process by adopting a shipping software solution. While our old process—typing an address for UPS then putting that information back in with other tracking numbers—took a couple of minutes, the new technology cuts it down to just a couple seconds.
4. Shine a light on star employees.
Some people will always try to work 12-hour days, no matter what the posted schedule says. Others, those who arrive at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. every day, regardless of what they do between those hours, may see a five-hour workday as just that—less time to be at the office.
As this transition gets rolling, those people need to become part of why the five-hour day works. The five-hour workday is a set of required hours, not one of reduced expectations.
Too many companies are wasting too much time. If yours is one of them, consider taking these steps to reduce hours. You might be surprised by the results.