Maintenance Resources

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Employee Involvement : Long working hour gives poor environment for improvements

I believe long working hour makes a poor environment for improvement. Employees are exhausted and prefer to flow in old lane rather than to think in a new way. Personal - professional life collide each other which creates a lot of stress which further lower down the morale of employees. As a final result he/she got de-attached with organization and improvement slowed down.

Reflections are easily visible in low rate of kaizen per employee, poor kaizen suggested Vs. implemented ratio, frequent breakdown due to overlooking the simple daily checkpoints, accident due to fatigue, customer concern missing in inspection and overall decrement in quality system due to poor employee-organization engagement.

In my past and present professional life, I am observing a category who love to stick to their workplace for extra hour (beyond working hours) and express their contribution not in terms of the value addition they did to the organization but in terms of time they spent in company. Unfortunately, they got success to fetch the attention and sympathy from upper management and BOSS starts to expect that other too should follow the same path. I felt by myself that how much stress it creates to their subordinates if they asked to walk in the same lane.

Yes, time to time there are some work surges which demand extra hours from team to meet business deadlines (New project or sudden surge in in-house or customer end) but it should be well explained to the team about requirement and expectation and should not be a regular work culture. I believe, people works to satisfy their family and social needs and need time too to do so. If it is being disturbed continuously, they try their best to find an alternate way inside or outside the organization. Both the ways, it is loss to the company. They did unnecessary waste of company resources like overtime benefits/ allowance, food, convenience and loose productivity of him and others too.

 It is a common sense that when people work more, they become tired and give less output. Many companies realized the same and giving extra efforts to encourage better work-personal life balance to make them much more productive.

In search of the work time and productivity relation, I found several well researched paper on net and this post is highly influenced by “Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons” By Evan Robinson and  “HENRY FORD: Why I Favor Five Days' Work With Six Days' Pay” by SAMUEL CROWTHER .

“ When Henry Ford famously adopted a 40-hour workweek in 1926, he was bitterly criticized by members of the National Association of Manufacturers. But his experiments, which he'd been conducting for at least 12 years, showed him clearly that cutting the workday from ten hours to eight hours — and the workweek from six days to five days — increased total worker output and reduced production cost. Ford spoke glowingly of the social benefits of a shorter workweek, couched firmly in terms of how increased time for consumption was good for everyone. But the core of his argument was that reduced shift length meant more output “
 “More than a century of studies show that long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.
In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short- and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease. “

For several times I was compiled to stick to work to meet the dead lines but have experienced that at late working hours, people like to rush or jump into a conclusion which has a greater chance to be WRONG because the capability of judgment is decrease  or even after a hard try they finished it incomplete. But on next day, with a fresh mind it completes faster than yesterdays try .

There is no wrong that ‘management wants to achieve maximal output from employees — they want to produce a (good) product as cheaply as possible. They also want to avoid hiring extra resources that increase the cost of the finished goods unless absolutely necessary” but the wrong is that they think people are very much consistent in their output through out the time they spent in workplace. Even a machine goes under breakdown if it uses more than it’s design cycle duration without any interval or require maintenance.
“Laboratory studies show that mental work declines by 25% during each successive 24 hours of continuous wakefulness. Sleep-deprived individuals are able to maintain accuracy on cognitive tasks, but speed declines as wakefulness is extended.”
Sidney J. Chapman's Hours of Labour (1909), included (roughly) the following diagram:

 “At first the declines in output per hour simply reflect the effects of fatigue on both quantity and quality of work performed toward the end of a given day. But eventually daily fatigue is compounded by cumulative fatigue. That is, any additional output produced during extended hours today will be more than offset by a decline in hourly productivity tomorrow and subsequent days.
Even during a single “day” of extreme duration, output may come to a standstill as an exhausted employee becomes unable to function. Or output can turn negative as stupefied employees commit catastrophic errors that destroy previously completed work or capital.
In factory terms, a worker's production rate decreases over time. A worker who is creating 10 widgets/hour at the beginning of a shift may be producing only 6/hour at the end of the shift, having peaked at 12/hour a couple of hours in. Over time, the worker works more slowly, and makes more mistakes. This combination of slowdown and errors eventually reaches a point of zero productivity, where it takes a very long time to produce each widget, and every last one is somehow spoiled. Assembly-line managers figured out long ago that when this level of fatigue is reached, the stage is set for spectacular failure-events leading to large and costly losses – an expensive machine is damaged, inventory is destroyed, or a worker is seriously injured. “

At last, I believe from the bottom of my heart that a person has a lot to do in his life beside to earn. And a complete man, an efficient employee, a father, a husband and a social friend. He has to contribute effectively in each part  which gives him / her the pleasure of being complete.
If any of the strings got out of tune, then the balance between work and social life got imbalance and he/ she becomes  less productive.
So, “ the limitation of the working day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must prove abortive.”


  1. I really agree with you. Working long hours will only deteriorate your working capacity and your bodies responsiveness to tasks.

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