An interesting situation came up recently with one of the members of my Vistage CEO peer group. He is looking to recruit a senior marketing executive for his top team.
His external recruiter came up with six candidates, all of whom seemed very suitable from their CVs and he started to interview them.
He was surprised to find the same issue coming up with the first two that he saw. In essence both were currently employed in large corporates and were getting disenchanted with the demands being put on them.
It soon became evident that neither was suggesting that they weren’t committed or enthusiastic but they felt that they wanted more balance in the lives.
Both had families and the demands of the corporates were such as to place the company at the forefront of the lives of its employees irrespective of seniority.
Both candidates were well paid and with many significant side benefits but all of a sudden there was a feeling that this was not what either of them wanted in life.
Both said that they would be interested in discussing the offered position with my member but said that they would only do so on certain conditions that would help to balance their lives.
One asked for a four-day week with two of the days working from home and the other asked for a five day week again with two of the days working from home.
Should we be surprised by this story? It is remarkable to recall that as technology changed and the use of computers became universal, so-called experts were predicting that the way that we would be working in the future would be no more than twenty hours a week with the virtual elimination of paperwork.
Some hope! A great deal of paperwork has gone but twenty hours a week? That might be the true working time with the balance being taken up with trawling through interminable emails and messages most of which are of no interest or value.
A recent issue of the excellent quarterly magazine, VQ, published by Vistage UK, examined the Future of Work and came to some interesting conclusions. (Contact Vistage.co.uk if you would like a copy)
Economists have estimated that simply to maintain GDP growth at its present levels we will need at least another 160,000 contributors to the economy in the near future.
That can only be achieved, I would suggest, either by a dramatic improvement in productivity or a realisation that we will have to accept that immigration particularly of skilled people is a necessity not a burden.
Even then the need for balance in our lives is paramount. In Freemasonry, Masons can become addicted to lodge meetings and can become “five-nights-a-week Masons”. That is not the way to preserve unity at home and the mantra is that “the family comes first, followed by the requirements of work followed by Freemasonry”. That is a realistic assessment of balance.
The same could be said for our own lives. We need to ask ourselves if we are devoting enough time and effort to the things that really matter. Children have a habit of growing up at a very rapid rate and we can’t revert to their childhood once it has passed.
Maybe the idea of changing the way that we work can improve that balance. Technology has given us the freedom to work wherever and whenever we choose and as long as we achieve what is expected of us then why be constrained to practices that have existed for the last hundred years? We don’t often see clocking-in machines nowadays so why should we still expect our people to conform to metaphorical clocking-in?
Release people from the shackles of rules and regulations, agree what is expected of them, trust them and let them fly. You might well start a new working revolution.
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