“Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night.” - Marian Wright Edelman
I’ve had a really long day at work today, getting in at about 7:00 am and coming back home about 6:00 pm. Although this is not a typical day for me, it is usual for me on all days to work long hours and often my work comes home with me at weekends. I have much to do and many people depend on my activities, so things must be ready on time, ever time. Add to that the invariable crises that I need to deal with and that explains why I have to work so many hours. This is an expectation that most Australians have to live with in their place of employment. The Australia Institute has done a study on the work habits of Australians and they have published the results of surveys they have conducted, with some amazing (though not surprising) results.
On average, the typical Australian full-time worker does 70 minutes of unpaid overtime per day, Translating this to a yearly figure gives us 33 eight-hour days (over six weeks!). This is enough to nullify annual leave entitlements. Who is to blame? The Institute maintains it’s the workers themselves, who take pride in their work and do whatever they need to do to get the job done. What about the managers and bosses? They are often victims themselves, but some who work normal hours may not realise that their staff are overworked and putting so much time in the interests of the company. Peer pressure is to blame as well, and people who leave right on the dot are often frowned upon by the more “conscientious” workers.
Overtime is something that in some jobs is acknowledged and rewarded, but in other situations, unacknowledged and unrewarded overtime is part of the job. The eight-hour work-day that was won with such difficulty all of those decades ago is nowadays being eroded rather insidiously. The result of all this is of course an increased risk of health problems, relationship breakdown, alienation of family and friends. Someone who works nine and ten hour days with work brought home at the weekend will not be someone who is relaxing adequately and contributing to family life, nor able to be an active member in leisure and relationship-building activities.
Tomorrow has been declared as National Australian “Go Home on Time Day”. The Australia Institute is encouraging people to log on in their site and leave their email contact details there. You nominate the time you wish to be sent an email reminder with an attached skip of paper that tells you (and your boss!) that it is time to go home on time!
In terms of peer pressure, it is perhaps a good idea to start and educational program that gets people to be more efficient and be better time managers. Although many people are spending more time working, are they doing it as effectively as they can? Perhaps we may need to inculcate our workers with a culture of working to capacity and efficiently within the bounds of the eight-hour work day, and training them to frown on people who do unpaid overtime as inefficient, or as victims of a boss who takes advantage of them…
Tomorrow at least, if not every day from now on, GO HOME ON TIME!