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HRHeadStart #20: 4-day Work Weeks; Career Purpose; High Performance
Over the last several years, I have been delivering guest lectures on Workforce Analytics and Planning to students at the Singapore Management University Lee Kong Chian School of Business. Last week, I really enjoyed interacting with a class full of bright young people and we used real-world case studies to discuss topics like:
- Asking the right business questions for research
- Designing causal analysis and controlled evaluation experiments
- The power of simplicity in analytical techniques
- Using data for storytelling
The Talent Agenda
We live in an interesting world where the basic tenets of organization are evolving in unparalleled ways. Corporate purpose is fueling bold business moves. Competitors are tuning into ecosystem partners. Organizational hierarchies are turning into mesh networks. Labour is turning into talent. And companies are aspiring to be more human - inspiring, collaborative, inclusive and caring.
Another basic tenet that is being challenged is the notion that we need to work 5-6 days a week. Some quarters are calling for a 4-day work week. A trial in Iceland showed earlier that a 4-day week led to better well-being and lower perceived stress and burnout, while maintaining productivity. Microsoft Japan and Unilever New Zealand also did experiments that showed that workers were as productive in reduced work weeks.
Same pay, reduced time, better productivity, better health & well-being - that sounds like the perfect recipe, but the question remains if a preordained solution will work for everyone. Some employees will lap it up. Yet there would be others who want to work all 5 days with reduced hours to strike a better work-life balance. And if companies take the angle of reducing pay to match the reduced hours, it could work for some and not for others.
If companies opt for a hard 4-day work policy, I wonder if it is really in the spirit of flexible working or will it come across as yet another bossy, top-down policy? I believe true flexibility is the future. Explore an insightful analysis of this issue here.
Some people just go through their careers, moving from one job to another without a clear purpose. Career satisfaction is highly dependent on figuring out what your “true north” is - where do you want to do, why and what impact you want to have. Chasing your true purpose is far more rewarding than chasing job titles. Check out this brilliant HBR article written by two Harvard MBAs on how and why they chose to build a career in HR. It provides a peek into their minds as they set about directing their careers and making an impact.
A Productive Workout
A workout is a great way to create mindspace for processing and learning new ideas. And it primes you for creative thinking. For your next walk, run or workout session, take along motivational psychologist Heidi Grant. She talks about her classic research on behaviors of high-performing people and how to incorporate these in our lives. My favorite idea is to focus on continuously getting better, rather than just being good at something. Grab the links - Spotify, Apple Podcasts.
“Intensity adds. Consistency multiplies.” ~ Shane Parrish
I wanted to share additional resources for HRHeadStart subscribers. My friend, Foo Chek Wee (Human Capital Head at The Straits Trading Company), has launched a great initiative to interview HR/business leaders every week to enable us to learn what others have already mastered. Check out Thrive in Asia to watch video interviews on a wide range of topics including organizational transformation, design thinking, working in startups etc. This is a passion-powered and free project for the development of the HR community, so make the most of it.