Who cares how many hours you work – Maybe you’re inefficient

With all the recent talk surrounding the number of hours the typical American worker is now putting in, I was reminded of a talk I attended that brought together some of the country’s most successful leaders. One of the presenters was Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, a premier business analytics software company serving 45,000 customers and 92 of top 100 companies on the FORTUNE Global 500® list. Jim has led the privately-held company since it began in 1976. While SAS’s business success is impressive, the culture Jim has created is awe inspiring.

SAS employees work on average 35 hours a week. They are afforded flexible schedules allowing them to determine when they begin each morning and leave each afternoon. Each employee has their own office, no cubicles. Employees are afforded all of this control over their jobs in one of the most challenging, dynamic, fast-paced industries, known for the “Silicon Valley 100-hour” work week.

When asked how his company can compete with other IT firms that have employees working 100 hours a week, Jim candidly responded, “any work done after 5pm is going to be riddled with mistakes, these mistakes require you to waste half of the next day fixing them. I’d rather have you go home, enjoy your family and happily return to work the next day refreshed and ready to work hard.”

WOW, talk about a culture of trust. Trust in employees to really work. Trust in employees to control their schedules. Trust in employees to get results in half the time and accountability if they can’t. Certainly this work environment may not suit everyone, but that shouldn’t be the point. The point is to create a “perfect” environment for your employees to succeed, not follow the herd.

Related Articles: Leverage Company Culture as a Competitive Advantage; Guidelines for Assessing Organizational Culture

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