If you knew now that a promotion or career move would eventually lead to divorce and ruin your relationship with your children, would you think it was worth the sacrifice? When I’m doing a consultation and ask this during my employee best practices training, everyone thinks this question is quite naive and maybe literally insulting their intelligence. Yet that is happening every day in many companies right now. The drive to meet company goals and achieve career goals drives many to sacrifice family relationships. And, of course, each of us thinks this never will happen to us, until it does.
Competition to achieve promotion and greater wages will never end, and this is by far the biggest driver to push individuals to work longer hours. But at some point, we have to admit that healthy work habits and an honest day's work are expected and should be part of every successful company's practices for their employees.
Statically, men are more willing to sacrifice time devoted to work than women. Simply put, women generally have different priorities than men, which is oriented toward family being the number one priority, especially in the younger years with young children. Women typically have a much better understanding of the importance of a good work-life balance. However, most women do not understand the true competitive nature of men to compete for promotions and wage increases. To better understand the differences between women and men in the workforce, please see "The Construction Industry's Labor Shortage Is Partially Self-Inflicted."
Whether accepted or not, one fact cannot be disputed. And that is that women initiate divorce more often than men on average. Numerous studies have shown this. In fact, depending on which study you review, nearly 70 to 90%of divorces are initiated by women. What is the primary driver of this? In a word, neglect. So often stated is that "he does not give me his time, and he does not spend enough time with the kids." Go ahead and lie to yourself that you are working ridiculously long hours for the sake of your family. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and outliers to statistics that may pertain to your particular circumstances. Still, when it comes to all the other issues of infidelity, spousal abuse, and other emotional negligence, it usually all starts with neglect. If you are wondering what length of time is neglectful of your family, work that continuously exceeds 50 hours per 5-day work week should be a red flag.
Among executives such as Fortune 500 companies, multiple marriages and infidelity statistics are abysmal. To sacrifice one's family relationships for more money and a title should be viewed as a serious flaw, not an achievement to be praised. Few understand the personal sacrifices one must make to achieve this type of so-called career success.
Now what about the company demands and culture regarding the "needed" work hours devoted to one's position within a company? Sometimes one needs to sacrifice a ridiculous amount of hours for a particular need, such as equipment installation, but that needs to be the exception not the rule. If any company requires employees to work well beyond the 45-hour work week every month, your policies should be reviewed. And to answer the next question from younger readers, yes, a standard 5-day work week of 45 hours is not unreasonable. Just make sure to arrive earlier in the morning and leave a practical time to have dinner with the family. And unless you are the primary home provider raising the children, a 32-hour work week is not full-time.
To the employer, the lack of the number of employees for vacant positions and other internal company issues such as labor costs are not an acceptable excuse for poor employee practices. I highly recommend reading two of my previous important articles about employee labor and practices.
- Labor Shortages Worse Than Most Understand and Automation is Not Going to Be the Cure-All Solution
- Employee Issues and Net Profits - See What Happens When Continuous Improvement is More than a Slogan
One final statement that each reader should understand involves your role as an employee. At every job, one should either learn or earn. Either is fine. Both are best. But if neither, then leave on good terms. Your reputation as a worthy employee will follow you to your next opportunity. No company or title should be more valuable to you than the relationship between you, your spouse, and your children. We should always keep in mind that family is and always should be the number one priority.