Light/End/Tunnel – Corporate America and Productivity

I seem to be coming out of the 1.5 month marathon1 that was my work schedule. I spent a lot of time working nights and weekends and I think I’m back to having a handle on it. It’s nice to be able to look at a work week and the list of things to do and not wonder what I’m going have to put off because there simply are not the resources to accomplish it. This is both a bad and a good thing: Bad because I subscribe to the notion that you just cannot expect your employees (including yourself) to work non-stop and keep being productive; after a while, the amount of re-work that occurs entirely defeats the momentary increase in productivity that a 60 or 70 hour work week entails. Good because it’s nice to have the work and we’re not trying to fill time by dragging out projects.

There’s a happy median in there that seems to have some sort of wave function around it—a constantly changing distance from the center that affects everyone’s morale and productivity. Get too far on one side and you have burnout; get too far on the other and you lose your job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Non-Farm productivity of America has been growing at an average of a little over 2% since 1990. You might also have heard the recent news stories about corporate profits on the uptick yet real wages staying flat. I’m not economist enough to make any bold statements about what this means or how it is the result of glaring corporate greed, however anecdotally, I can tell you that not many people I know are getting cost of living raises this year, nor is the job market exactly swimming with opportunity. We’re doing more, but making the same. Go us!

I’m not one who can really shout to the rafters about paying employees before paying the company—hell, I’ve been making noise about investing more in the company, and that money has to come from somewhere, but that’s another discussion—but it seems like things are still a bit unsettled. People are afraid to make moves despite being in “bad situations” because of the uncertainty in finding stable work2. I think that’s short sighted, but it’s perfectly rational.

But back to my initial paragraph. Things will be calmer this month, which is nice. The objective is to stay as much on top of things as possible to keep things calm. That’s always the challenge.

  1. Only to enter into an actual marathon, har har []
  2. Last in, first out is a staple of the layoff industry []
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