We’re all working too hard…

Employees in the UK work longer hours that any of our European counterparts. In fact, if a recent TUC report is to believed, it seems that we not even particularly good at taking holidays… or even lunch breaks! Is it any wonder then that generation Y are revolting against this mind-set – “they don’t live for work… they work to live” -and that many companies now work hard to stress the opportunities of flexible working hours and home working benefits rather than any financial rewards. Some businesses even offer up to a year of family leave just to attract the best young talent.

The culture in certain industries, and particularly owner managed businesses, is to keep the control of projects and certain aspects of the day-to-day running of the organisation; to ensure it is done correctly. This approach leads to the UKs workforce spending more time at work and less with their loved ones at home.

What’s more it is taking an effect on our health; according to the University of Massachusetts, those who work over a 48 hour week are 61% more likely to become hurt or ill, once factors such as age and gender were taken into account. And working more than 12 hours a day raised the risk by more than a third. The report went on to reveal that a 60-hour week carried a 23% greater risk

“Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that long working hours indirectly precipitate workplace accidents through a causal process, for instance, by inducing fatigue or stress in affected workers.”

These findings, published in the Occupational and Environmental Health journal, supported initiative such as the 48-hour European Working Time Directive to cut the number of working hours.

What is the solution? How do we fight back and reclaim the time but ensure that we continue to deliver consistent results?

The key is in delegation. Outsourcing the low level tasks i.e. those that require a minimal amount of expertise. The art to this type of delegation is in effectively leveraging the talents and time of the key people within the business and in turn increasing the value of the business. By maximising the productivity of your staff and suppliers you are able to release time in order to manage the businesses direction and steer the ship toward its ultimate destination, or goal. An organisation, well managed, with consistent and well defined processes and systems should be able to operate without you. And when it’s running with just a little management then it is time to get to the travel agents! Start reaping the rewards of all your blood sweat and tears.

When shedding the responsibility of some of the low level tasks you need to consider a few things:

1.)    Partner with someone who knows the business. Picking the wrong person will lead to failure and will sully any future thoughts of delegation.

2.)    Ensure that the person or organisation has a track record of delivering consistent results

3.)    Keep the complicated stuff. You and your best internal staff are experienced and skilled professionals. Shed the tasks that don’t require your expertise. This will free you up to focus on the bigger picture, the bigger fish.

4.)    Ensure that you’ve clear criteria to assess success. Ensure that you share this. A good relationship starts with being open about expectations and being transparent in what success looks like.

With this done. You can spend more time doing things you love – family, fishing, sports or holidays. You only live once!