The Building Blocks of Business and Personal Success

Posted on: 17 Sep 2010
Link: https://empoweringabc.com/2010/09/17/w-is-for-workforce-efficiency-and-motivation/

The Building Blocks of Business and Personal Success

Posted on: 17 Sep 2010

W is for Workforce Efficiency and Motivation

A good friend has been troubled by a situation at work. There are around a dozen people on the team which exists within a very large global corporation. They all work very hard and put in long hours. It is a specialized team and effective members need to be both skilled and experienced.

One person on the team is the mother of two young children. She is taking advantage of her legal right (by Japanese law) to go home after putting in an 8 hour work day so she can spend time with her family. She works hard while on the job, has many years of experience, and is quite productive.

Unfortunately, her fight to protect her rights is causing a problem for the team and no one is very happy right now. Because this employee is going home earlier than everyone else, her teammates are forced to take on extra work… causing them to work even longer hours. Management is aware of the problem, and is trying to pressure the mother to put in more time — which she has been refusing to do.

Doing more with less more!

The root of the problem is clear: The team is overworked. And since one person is fighting back, everyone is jumping on her for not being a team player.

Many companies are infatuated with the phrase “doing more with less”. It has been a battle cry during these tough economic times, and I am fully aware that companies sometimes have no choice but to cut costs and trim their workforce while attempting to keep output levels high.

But this is not a long term strategy for sustainable business operations. And sadly, my friend’s company has been taking this approach for many years — long before the 2008 economic downturn.

I am not advocating hiring unnecessarily. Rather, I suggest that companies need to recognize that “more with less” is not a sustainable practice. They need to empower their managers to make personnel decisions that are right for their teams and truly respect the “work-life balance” that so many companies proudly tout.

If it is clear that employees are overworked — people regularly putting in extremely full 11+ hour work days is a good hint! — address the problem directly and fight to get more help.

Learning to fly

Southwest Airlines is one of the world’s most profitable airlines when many other airlines are struggling and major carriers have even gone into bankruptcy. How does Southwest keep this up year after year even in this tough economy?

Herb Kelleher, co-founder and long time Chairman of Southwest Airlines instilled the company with a simple set of values about treating people right. The order of their priority is:

  1. Employees
  2. Customers
  3. Shareholders

This is not to say that Customers and Shareholders are not important. Rather, it is based on a cascading effect.

  1. Treat your employees right, make sure they are happy and come to their jobs energized each day.
  2. Happy employees will treat your customers right.
  3. Happy customers will come back, therefore making your shareholders happy.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Good reading:

The University of Texas at Austin
McCombs School of Business
Herb Kelleher: An Entrepreneur for all Seasons

Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Takes a look at Southwest Airlines along with many other very successful and influential businesses and people.

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2 Responses to “W is for Workforce Efficiency and Motivation”

  1. Eric

    Yes, it does make sense. When the work environment is not good people can become unintentionally short with clients and colleagues. I think most employees want to do a good job and enjoy their work, but the environment also affects their ability to do so.

  2. Kevin Ing


    I think you’re right that most people want to do a good job and enjoy the time the spend doing their work.

    Looking at companies that have a highly engaged workforce, there are a couple of things we can see:

    1. The companies respect their employees and treat them well.

    2. The companies tend to have a clear purpose beyond just turning a profit and pleasing shareholders. This is important for giving people a sense of why they go to work every day.

    Number one is good. Number two leads to truly great.

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