Many of you and your fellow accountants are doing more with less these days. Your company has had cutbacks, people have bolted for (presumably) greener cube farms and you’re left to do the heavy lifting. You’re miserable but dammit, you’re not happy unless you’re unhappy, amiright?!?
Besides, you’re doing an awesome job, as Tony Schwartz writes at the Harvard Business Review blog The Conversation, “Americans are working 10 percent fewer total hours than they did before the recession, due to layoffs and shortened workdays, but we’re producing nearly as many goods and services as we did back in the full employment days of 2007.”
He cites AG’s archenemies Ben Bernanke as saying these are “extraordinary” gains in productivity by you, the American worker.
Except there’s one small problem with this, Mr Schwartz notes:
[I]t’s called fear. If colleagues around us are being laid off and cut back, we can’t help worrying that our jobs may be next. Our survival instincts kick in, and we push ourselves harder, so we’re not the next one to go. We get more done, which sounds like good news and certainly explains higher productivity…
…Americans already put in more hours than workers in any country in the world – and that doesn’t include the uncounted shadow work that technology makes possible after the regular workday ends.
Here’s the bigger point. Just as you’ll eventually go broke if you make constant withdrawals from your bank account without offsetting deposits, you will also ultimately burn yourself out if you spend too much energy too continuously at work without sufficient renewal.
Sound familiar to anyone? No one really thinks that you’re working like a mad(wo)man because you love your spreadsheets that much. You know what? Try giving the shit a rest. You can ask E&Y; they’ll tell you. Mr Schwartz mentions “A comprehensive study by Ernst & Young showed that the longer the vacation their employees took, the better they performed.” There it is! One of your own has proof that you’re better employees if you took a break.
Whether E&Y has translated these findings into mandatory vacation for its employees is unclear. Regardless, there are those hopeless souls who consider their presence indispensable and simply won’t take time off to recharge or – God forbid – enjoy doing anything besides working. Sigh. Unfortch, As long as face time (i.e. the billable hour) rules then this will likely continue, unless TPTB wake up. “Stop measuring your people by the hours they put in, and focus instead on the value they produce.”
The Productivity Myth [The Conversation/HBR]