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Help Your Employees "Make" Time

Sep 4, 2008
Because of thunder storms in Atlanta, the flight from Dallas to Atlanta had been delayed twice. On the third attempt, we were boarding and I felt hopeful of actually getting off the ground. My hopes faded fast when the tired-looking flight attendant came down the aisle quietly announcing that if we were not permitted to take off in the next 15 minutes, the crew would have exceeded their 16-hour work day and we would have to taxi back to the terminal and await another flight.

We were not given permission to take off. The crew's time had expired and as we taxied back to the terminal I felt mixed emotions. I kept thinking, "But we were right there;ready to take off. How could 1-1/2 more hours matter?"

Just as airlines are concerned about overworked pilots and flight attendants, employers should be concerned about overworked employees. Why? Errors, accidents, and low productivity for a start.

My mixed emotions as we taxied back to the terminal are similar to the signals our culture sends today about long work hours. In one breath we agree with employees having a pity party about how hard they work and with the other breath, we award employees a "red badge of courage" for having the guts to go the extra mile.

A study by the Families and Work Institute concludes that overworked employees should be taken seriously. Employees who are overworked are more likely to exhibit anxiety, make mistakes at work, harbor angry feelings and resent coworkers who don't pull their share of the load. The study documents that nearly half of employees who feel overworked report that their health is poor. Eight percent of employees who are not overworked experience symptoms of clinical depression compared with 21 percent of those who are highly overworked.

What can managers do to help employees "make" time during the day so they do not feel overworked?

1. Train employees in time management principles including goal setting and project management skills.
2. Teach them how to use the software packages/technology provided for them.

There is nothing more frustrating to an employee than thrusting upon them a new software package, designed to increase efficiency, but giving them no instruction on the use of the program. Being left to their own technical skill, some wander forty years in the wilderness before getting up to speed.

I teach a time and technology program, Time for Results, that is extremely effective in increasing individual and team productivity. If you have Microsoft Outlook on each employee's computer, I know three things:

1. You paid Bill Gates a premium for the privilege of installing the program on company computers.

2. Most employees use the Outlook software only for e-mail, regular meetings and an occasional appointment -- about 25% of the power of this software.

3. If employees used the other 75% of the software, there would be a gain in productivity and an increased return on the investment purchasing Outlook.
The Time for Results training program teaches employees the features and functions of Microsoft Outlook then skillfully shows them how to reap time-saving benefits from the features. For instance, many employees have never used the Tasks feature. By taking advantage of the Advanced Tasks Dialog box, employees can benefit from digital project management information, associate other co-workers with the task, and keep information about the task in one place.

Managers should make a concerted effort to grease the wheels of productivity, and not be the stick that gets caught in the tire spokes, catapulting the rider from the trail which inadvertently happens for many managers. For a tip sheet on how managers can help employees "make" time. With the easily implemented ideas in the tip sheet, you'll be able to affect a productivity culture change in your organization, improving your bottom line even in tough times. With this program, your employees will feel less-overworked and have more minutes every day to use their mental facilities to think and solve problems. Isn't this what you hired them for?
About the Author
To implement a productivity culture change initiative in your organization that will reduce the overworked,
overwhelmed feeling of employees and the cost of doing
business. Learn more at

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