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PROOF: Less Hours Worked = More Sales & A Healthier Staff


This short story came up in conversation with a friend the other day.


It’s an important lesson for leaders or anyone who wants to achieve a greater work-life balance while improving performance at the same time.

This conclusion is backed by two decades of science and you should know about it because a lot of companies continue to perpetuate unhealthy work cultures and they fail to promote a healthy work-life balance as a priority.


Ironically, as the data has shown, the “chronic grind” hurts the very performance and output numbers the ambitious goal seekers desperately covet, so if your boss is too strung out on caffeine and the constant midnight grind, read this and give him/her a summary. Your entire company just might thank you for it. I’m sorry to the hustle & grind folks, but the data has been conclusive for the last two decades: Human beings are most efficient and productive over the long term if they work on average 30-40 hours per week.


Anyone who tells you otherwise is usually operating under one of the following false paradigms:


  1. Leadership suffers from an inferiority complex, and they are out to prove something. (usually to a long-gone parent who witheld praise.)

  2. They have been falsely programmed in an unhealthy work culture themselves.

  3. Or they are trying to get you to do what THEY want you to do, instead of what’s best for you.


There are always exceptions to this rule, and if you love what you do and you want to do more of it that's great, just don't expect everyone on your team to be the same as you.


Diverse companies historically make better decisions, and a company of clones and yes-men will not get you very far.


What About Startups?


Sure, getting a company going from scratch takes some late nights, weekends and early mornings, I know this first hand, but if you want your company to reach maturity, cash flow, and system-driven stability, you need to get through that phase as quickly as possible.


The example below illustrates my point:


To keep the people and business involved anonymous, I’m going to keep the names anonymous and themes general, but this is a true story taken from my own first-hand experience.


This story begins in the mid-2000s. I was a 20 something entrepreneur, running on a confidence high from my first website launch that went global, grossing $60,000 per month. Before this website, I was a rookie with a vision, I didn’t know a lick of coding and I even used a simple drag-n-drop style editor to build my first few websites.


Most importantly, I did this working part-time because I was traveling the country as an up-and-coming motocross racer, spending almost every Fri-Sat-Sun on the track. In a time when our competitors were building e-commerce sites with 100-200 products, I built a website with a very deliberate 12-15 products that I hand-selected because I knew they were the best in our industry. This zig while others zag approach has served me very well in my career and it’s a strategy you might want to consider yourself.


When it comes to digital marketing campaigns, less is often more.


Anyhow, in those days, I realized that building websites and getting customers was only one-half of the puzzle. What matters equally is building a competent delivery team that can keep up with the sales demand that a good marketing technology plan can generate.


So, along with devouring marketing information, I began to add strategic growth and team building to my information diet. This knowledge has paid me back 10X or more over the years.


To get to the punch line here, early in my journey, I found myself directing digital strategy for a large automotive business that was managing a rapid growth phase, in part because of their investment in a dynamic website and the search engine optimization strategy we had deployed.

As their sales multiplied, their leadership team struggled to keep up with the high level of standards they had set for themselves. I noticed their sales team often bragged about the hours they were putting in, and in that same breath, I witnessed more than once their salespeople going out back to have “almost fist-fight” style arguments about taking each other’s sales, etc.


Yes, they had a flood of people flocking to buy from them, but they also had cranky, tired, and ambitious salespeople making mistakes on detailed state and legal paperwork. Almost around the clock.


This was a volatile combination that resulted in frequent paperwork mistakes and unhappy customers with delayed title transfers that burdened an already stretched admin staff.


In preparation for one of their large quarterly meetings, in addition to my usual marketing reports, I had prepared a report borrowed from the Harvard Business Review that conducted a study on work hours and performance. (citation provided below)


The long and short of the study concluded that people who consistently worked longer hours (above 40 per week) made more mistakes, had poorer long-term performance, and usually suffered compounding health issues that took them away from the job more frequently over time.


Within weeks of showing this study to the leadership team, they devised a new lighter sales staff schedule and began to roll it out.


That’s when all hell and rumors started to break loose and I got my first lesson in what scared people do when they believe their wallets and livelihood are being pinched. Regardless of how good our intentions were. Rumors and stories of all types began to spread that people were going to be laid off, the owners were selling the company and all sorts of other non-sense was drummed up as they felt the winds of change approach.


Full credit to the management team for persisting and allowing the science and data to lead the way.


Within a few months of deploying the strategy, the whiners stopped whining, sales numbers rose slightly and many families got to spend more time with their family week after week as the demand on their time decreased by anywhere from 10-20%.


I wasn’t personally with the project long enough to hear firsthand what personal stories came from this successful rollout, but the long-term implications on staff health were probably the most rewarding for me on a human level.

In summary, yes, good digital marketing can turbo-charge your sales, but if your staffing and team strategy isn’t equipped to handle it, then you might create more problems than the growth is worth. As far as I know, my team and I are some of the only marketing strategists who also help guide our clients through a complete marketing growth curve with support and knowledge on the strategic growth side.


When you do this enough times like I have, you start to see patterns and common challenges that ALL teams encounter when navigating a growth phase. Strategic (and profitable) growth is not voodoo, it’s not even rocket science, it’s about identifying a worthwhile goal, making a decision to do it, identifying the core growth team, and simply evolving the business (step by step) until the goal is achieved.


One final disclaimer about limiting work hours. There can be exceptions to this rule, of course, however, the company is always a reflection of the person or people at the top.


As the leaders of change in our organization, it’s important we are crystal clear about what values we are actually embodying, and whether or not they are aligned with the vision we have for our future.


With the tools available to us via the internet today, the opportunity is ours for the taking.


Technology and automation are vaporizing costs and middlemen involved with getting your message to your ideal buying audience online.


We know people are searching for the solutions you have on a daily basis, but can they find you? When they do find you, are they picking up the phone and placing orders? Most importantly, are you measuring all of this activity as you should?


As the saying goes, you can’t control what you can’t measure.


If you would like help answering these questions more powerfully for your business, let’s schedule a time to chat. Schedule a quick chat: https://calendly.com/kyledammann/15min


Citation: https://hbr.org/2018/12/the-case-for-the-6-hour-workday


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