When it comes to business, is more always better? Certainly more sales paired with the increased capacity to handle it is great, but for yourself and employees, working longer and harder may actually harm the long-term growth and sustainability of your business.
The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This can be applied to the health of a company, which cannot be measured merely by financial gains. We mustn’t forget that true success is multidisciplinary, encompassing several domains, such as the wellbeing of staff, smooth operations and happy customers.
When looking to improve the wellbeing of your employees, you’ll have the largest impact by enabling them to have a fulfilling work-life balance. As outlined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the basic necessity of physiological requirements include sleep, nutrition and overall health. If your employees have to dedicate too much time to work and not enough time to rest, sleep and basic self care, their wellbeing and productivity will suffer. If they don’t burnout first, they’ll move to another company, which will ultimately cost your business money.
Working less doesn’t mean producing less. With moderation, you can pursue both efficiency and quality. Parkinson’s Law demonstrates that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” This means if you give yourself eight hours to complete a two hour task, you’ll end up taking all eight hours to finish the work. We have all experienced the pressure of deadlines leading to intense focus and productivity, but we also know it cannot be sustained 100% of the time.
One option may be a shorter workday. Several studies have been conducted on productiveness and reduced working hours now, with major examples such as Sweden’s Six hour work day. Companies who apply this theory not only become more profitable but also create closer knit cultures and communities. A smaller step towards this could be offering flexi-time, which enables your employees the space to comfortably juggle their work and life responsibilities.
Ultimately, the message of moderation in the workplace is a calling to stop treating humans as machines or consumables. Not even machines can work at 100% of their capacity for long, and most machines work at a lower rate than they are capable of in order to facilitate a longer lifespan. In moderation lies the success of your business, via sustainability, longevity and greater outputs without exhausting resources.