Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Jobs and overtime

It never quite dawns upon me why there is even a need for people do some overtime in their working life. I saw people toiling away their lives in the office, involved in seemingly unending flow of work. I am confused on why it can happen.

I keep wondering what makes a company have a lot of employees who are working over time. Does that mean that the process is not right such that the wastage of time is abundant? Does it mean that the company is simply understaffed? Does it mean that the employee is slow? Does it mean that the company is trying to employ slaves to boost up margin? Unfortunately, somehow it seems like the erring point is at the company.... Process can always be improved, margin can always be improved without sacrificing the employee's time and pay, and so on. However, it's difficult to get the entire company to put effort in improving the business process unless some top management guys are openly supporting the changes.

A middle manager and lower ranked employee can't do much to improve processes without clear mandate from the boss. I think ideal company should manage its employees time well such that extra time are available for the employees to embark on ad hoc projects to improve the company's overall work and life satisfaction. Too often that in order to achieve short-term profit, employees are forced to work overtime without extra pay, with low pay, and/or in terrible working environment. It should be difficult for such company to survive if the employees are feeling the burden daily and no time and effort are put to improve the processes, procedures, and even on the business development side. After all, if you keep chasing the dangled carrot in front of your eyes, you won't be able to see what's at the side and your concentrated focus on the carrot will cause you to bump to the walls in front of you.

Continuous improvement on a company's process is mandatory and innovative solution and working environment needs to be fostered if a company wishes to remain competitive. However, if majority of the employees are kept busy on their work without much room for creativity to wiggle, it's pretty hard to imagine the company to succeed in the long term.

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