Thursday, August 2, 2007

20-something workers wasting more time than older workers?

I read a survey today on that states 20-something employees are wasting more time at work than older employees. The statistics read as follows:

The 2007 Wasting Time Survey by asked 2,000 employees across varying job levels how they spend working hours. The survey reported that out of an 8.5 hour workday, employees waste an average of 1.7 hours.

The age break-down on the wasted time looks like this:
20-29: 2.1 hrs. per day.
30-39: 1.9 hrs. per day.
40-49: 1.4 hrs. per day.

Interesting, that the admitted time waste is higher among people under 40. I think in my own career, when I look back, I may have wasted more time when I was younger. That was because back then I thought time was unending. As I hit 40, I realize now that I only have so much time on this beautiful Earth to live my dreams. It's do or die wondering why I didn't. I'd rather do - how about you?

From my perspective, I think that people in JOBS, per se, waste time because they are not EMPOWERED to fully utilize their skills at most jobs. I remember re-writing a sales presentation at a company because marketing didn't have a clue how to pitch to customers. First of all, they suggested LEADING with the presentation (a mistake: always lead with questions regarding their needs then FOLLOW with the presentation along with the findings and your solution to MEET their NEEDS!). I recall marketing later discovered my presentation and subsequently rolled-out their "new" presentation to the field, coincidentally utilizing 85% of the content from my presentation, and added in more fluff to dumb it down. Nice, huh?

Anyway, if people were really utilized properly, and recognized for what they brought in to the company, the issue of wasting time would become largely irrelevant. Sure, some people spend hours digging the net, spending time joking around with YouTube, and otherwise IMing (instant messaging) each other to waste time. It's part of life that people need a break. However, I don't know that computer/technology related breaks truly give us an escape from our work.

I eliminated IMing because I found that people who IM waste hours and hours of time. So, no IMs for me.

The survey failed to mention that cigarette smoking causes a humongous waste of time. If you figure a smoker averages one cigarette per 30 minutes, and each cigarette takes an average of 4 minutes to smoke (plus extended time talking to other smokers in smoking area I'll round up to 5 minutes), that means a smoker will spend 45 minutes out of every 9 hour day smoking. That's almost an hour less than a non-smoker. So, I suppose could look into that.

If you find yourself wasting a lot of time at work, I'd challenge you with the following question:


Because people who are passionate about their job (career) don't want to waste time. They want to build success and create time with other people who are building success.

Consider these top-ranked time-wasting activities from the 2006 Wasted Time report:

Top Time-Wasting Activities (%)
1 Surfing Internet (personal use) 52.0%
2 Socializing with co-workers 26.3%
3 Running errands off-premises 7.6%
4 Spacing out 6.6%
5 Making personal phone calls 3.9%
6 Arriving late / Leaving early 2.9%
7 Applying for other jobs .7%

At least the last category was honest about not wanting to be there!

If people are surfing the net for personal use, you gotta wonder why. I surf the net, but 95% of my searches are related to business issues, articles for AspireNow, and other things I'm working towards. Running errands, well, if I work late, those are made up for, and spacing out is just weird.

Organizations creating a culture that does not waste time in meaningless meetings, that encourages spending their daily time efforts wisely, will find that measuring some of these things will become mute IF employees are empowered in a modern way.

I don't personally believe that 20-somethings are wasting that much more time than their older co-workers. It is highly possible that they are faster at processing what they do. They grew up in a faster generation. It is also possible that they are able to balance things and surfing the net is part of that balance. Allowing people the freedom to surf the net is critical to success for business, because something unrelated to your business may be discovered from one of your employees surfing the net. The truly innovative organization encourages that type of thinking, searching, and discovery.

My suggestion is to create a system to empower employees based upon their skills, not based upon their job description or job title. Real contribution, measured in real success, ought to be rewarded. The other riff-raff ought to be cut loose so they can do what they need to do: their true life purpose.

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