In the last week news emerged of Virgin Boss, Richard Branson’s plan to eliminate restrictions on the amount of holidays his employees in the US & UK can take each year. Under this arrangement, employees will be allowed to take time off without prior warning so long as their work is kept up to date. The logic behind this initiative is to increase morale, creativity and productivity within his workplace.
In France, new labour laws were enforced making it illegal for workers in certain sectors to respond to emails or phone calls after 6pm. A little further north in Sweden a trial was run this year reducing work hours to just 30 a week. Now don’t get me wrong, these initiatives are attractive, but it raises the question is this really what it takes to make employees happy (and productive)?
Having recently returned from a European holiday it became clear work life balance ideals differ around the globe. In Italy for example, you will find most businesses are closed between 1pm and 3pm. During this time the Italians usually go home and spend time with their loved ones before returning back to work. In Italy, work fits around social and family life, not vice versa.
According to the 2013 Sportspeople Workplace Survey, in Australia and New Zealand, 51.4% of [full-time] employees work more than 40 hours per week, with 16.9% working in excess of 50 hours weekly. Those who work in the sport sector particularly are often expected to work their usual week plus attend evening and weekend meetings and show up at the games or events as often as possible. The interesting thing is, from our experience interviewing thousands of sport administrators, they are genuinely motivated by the pure enjoyment of the job. This is further reinforced by data from the Sportspeople Workplace Survey which showed 67.3% of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their hours of work.
On a personal level, my father worked at his own business 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for the last 50 years...still with no impending retirement plans. Did this make him unhappy? Not at all! Sure there were ups and downs, moments where he wanted to give it all up, but work is his passion while his dedication serves as a great achievement and it has made my family appreciate the value of hard work.
Everyone’s needs are different and no matter where in the world you are, it is important your job is both financially and personally fulfilling. However don’t lose sight of what it is that makes you happy. If it is work, don’t feel ashamed to admit it, just as much as you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting more ‘me time.’
AC - Sportspeople
First Published 2014.