A recent study published by the Harvard Business Review stated that the new norm for E.M.P.’s [executives, managers, professionals] is a 72.5 hour work week. That is the new norm and it has alarming implications. The typical work week breaks down to 13.5 hour days Monday to Friday and 5 hours on the weekend. A 13.5 hour work day translates to 7:00 AM start time and 8:30 PM finish not counting time for lunch. In many cases it would be a fair assumption that lunches are either working lunches, lunches at the desk or quick lunches on the run.
If the typical executive, manager or professional averages 7 hours of sleep per night that leaves them 3.5 hours for commuting and personal time. We used to advise our clients 20 years ago that life had shifted from work and leisure to work, recuperation and leisure. The 3.5 hours per day not spent commuting are probably spent recuperating and preparing for the next work day. It’s safe to say that these people who work those hours are often not operating at their best based upon the physical, mental and emotional toll of the new work week norm.
The major complaints of the executives, managers and professionals should not come as a surprise to anyone. The first major complaint is the number of useless meetings they have to attend. Meetings take time to attend and take time time to prepare to attend. They also take time to respond to what took place in the meeting. Frequently the attendee cannot begin to think about responses until after the day’s meetings have ended. The meetings problem in my experience has three components. One, many meetings are unnecessary. Two, many meetings are poorly planned and thus take far longer than would be the case if they were properly planned. Third, the invite list for many meetings is far larger than necessary. These component problems all add up to complicate the life of the E.M.P.’s and add significant hours to their work week and stress level.
The second major complaint is the extreme number of emails received daily, many of which are useless. When I was teaching I quoted a study that indicated the average executive received 190 emails each day. That was 13 years ago. I can’t imagine what the number is up to now. We all know it has not declined.
The third complaint referenced the disorganized or incompetent executive suites. In an earlier blog I quoted a study that showed companies promote the wrong person 82% of the time. Compounding that problem is the refusal of many senior executives to admit they made a mistake which results in senior managers remaining in positions far longer than should be tolerated by the company.
The last major complaint referred to the unclear decision making authority in the organization. Over the years I’ve consistently experienced this problem both within the company or agency where I worked or at the client we were servicing. This issue produced many unproductive hours, frustration and inferior work.
The Harvard Business review study was done with 483 people who fit the category of executive, manager, or professional. The most interesting part of the study was a comment from an executive who shifted companies and discovered their new company had addressed the above problems. The executive found a huge improvement in his professional performance as well as his home life.
This new norm is a dangerous path for companies. The complaints must be addressed for companies to remain successful. Sadly none of the issues are new yet they persist.