The Eagle Blog

The 8 Hour Work Day

worker looking at his watchEvery employee enters into an employment contract of some sort with their employer.  The employer offering income, perhaps benefits and some perks in return for the employee agreeing to provide work.  Often that work is defined in terms of hours per day or per week.

Hypothetically if your work day is an 8 hour day then the expectation from your employer is for 8 “work hours”.  That might mean starting at 8am working until Noon, take an hour for lunch, then work from 1pm until 5pm.  If you start at 8:30 then you would finish at 5:30, a 9pm start means a 6pm finish.

A classic comment is “I only take 1/2 hour for lunch” or “I eat at my desk”.  Both are “no win” arguments because the 1/2 hour lunch is quickly forgotten, arriving a few minutes late can easily slip to 15 or 30 minutes and the eat at my desk is perhaps 50% of the time.

All of these issues are classic management problems if the focus is on hours worked.  Its not a good scenario for the manager and creates friction with the employee, who may then just find ways to game the system.

The best approach is to have an engaged workforce, that wants to earn their keep and is measured on productivity rather than just hours in.

Of course no system is perfect and at the end of the day it is the attitude of the employee that will determine whether they are truly “earning their pay” or just putting in time.  I often use the phrase … when at work, work!  An engaged employee doesn’t need to be told that.

The staffing industry is one industry where measuring productivity is pretty simple.  You can measure based on sales success (like any commissioned environment), you can measure based on activities … number of people interviewed, number submitted to clients, number of job orders generated, number of closes and many others.

In this kind of environment you want to attract people who have a drive to be successful in their career.  If you can do that then the rest should be easy … but of course life is never that simple.

1.  Give them the training they need to do the job the way you need it done.

2.  Give them the tools for success.

3.  Reward them based on their success.

4.  Measure productivity … and the hours should look after themselves.  If someone can be very successful and only work 7 hours a day do you really care?  If it takes someone else 10 hours a day to achieve that same success, is that a big problem?

With the popularity of flexible work weeks, telework or other forms of work arrangements the “8 hour day” or “40 hour week” is less important … BUT not forgotten!

If someone is not meeting their productivity targets there are other factors that management will look at … and one of them will be work ethic.

So … if you are not yet on top of your game (perhaps you are new, perhaps the markets or your particular sector have been tough) make sure you are working hard and putting in your time.  It might just be the only reason management continues to give you a break!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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