Working less can boost productivity

Author Keith Jennings
June 01,2018 - 05:00pm

Summer is here, and those in the machining business have their hands full producing parts, managing deadlines and trying to be profitable in a hypercompetitive world. This has certainly been the case at our shop, as we have dealt with a market downturn for 2 years and are operating with fewer employees who handle more duties than in the past.

That combination leads to stress in the workplace—turmoil that can lower a shop’s overall productivity. I’m no psychologist, but I’ve discovered a simple yet effective way to work more productively: Work less.

Technology has made it possible to connect with our jobs from anywhere in the world, and our work subsequently follows us everywhere. This constant focus on work has a negative impact on people. It’s causing many problem-solvers to become exhausted and come into work drained of the creativity and enthusiasm they’re being paid to provide. What used to be an interesting career for them has turned into a tiresome task that never stops.

Even at home with the family, they’re still thinking about their jobs and contemplating how to resolve the latest fire drill while answering emails and texts and making calls. As a result, ideas and solutions become stagnant. Instead of exceeding customer expectations, employees are satisfied to meet the minimum just to get the job out on time.

I’ve observed instances of this behavior among our shop’s staff members for the past couple of years. They wear many hats and are worn out many days. Also, employees don’t perform well when managers and owners have a stressed demeanor and lack optimism.

What can you do to fix this situation and ensure that the passion and enthusiasm remain? 

We all manage stress in different ways. My solution may not be yours, but the key is to quit working 24/7. When your job is done for the day, don’t carry that burden home and let it intrude on your private life. Go home, listen to music, eat a nice dinner, or walk around the neighborhood. The possibilities are limitless.

Maybe you have evening activities with your kids. If so, try to avoid work-related phone calls at the sports field or auditorium. Instead, silence the phone and remember what it was like to have that same experience without the calls.

With your mind cleared of the stress and distractions that are common in our world today, you should feel rested and able to focus during work. You should accomplish more, generate enthusiasm among your co-workers and, ultimately, come up with better, more creative solutions for customers.

Of course, there are times when working late or at home is necessary, but it shouldn’t be a way of life. If it is, there are most likely underlying problems in your shop that need to be addressed. Work during work, try not to think about work after work, and arrive each morning with a rested body and mind.



Manager's Desk Columnist

Keith Jennings is president of Crow Corp., Tomball, Texas, a family-owned company focusing on machining, metal fabrication and metal stamping.