Recently, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal describing how CEOs around the world spend their time. The article drew on data from a larger study, the Executive Time Use Project . This project relied on reports of time use by CEO’s personal assistants; making it more accurate. It came across my usual reading and I thought I might share some of the findings with you.
Here’s the break-down of the typical 55-hour work week for CEOs. There is a lovely pie graph attached to this post.
Now this has led to a lot of talk about how they work hard and are always trapped in meetings. 18 hours is a long time. But, what the Wall Street Journal ignores, Julie Kmec emphasises by examining the 20 hours of “work time” that is actually personal appointments, exercise and other activities.
The project website advertises that knowing how CEOs spend their time can tell a lot about management style and differences in cultures and performances. Maybe it can, and here are articles that tackle these issues. I think it tells us something slightly different and far more basic than this: what constitutes “work” depends on who does it. Would a study of low wage workers calculate as part of the work week “exercise”? Do we count travel time to and from a job as “work” among mid-level managers? The BLS American Time Use Surveys (Table 5, see footnote 2) do not include travel related to work in measures of work time. Why did the authors include as part of a CEO workday things like personal time and activities unrelated to work?
Without this personal time, a CEO’s average work week—35 hours—looks closer or shorter than other workers. For example, among employed people who worked on an average weekday in 2010, the average weekly hours spent working at all jobs (excluding travel related to work), for workers with a H.S. diploma was 40.05 hours, for women who worked full-time, the average was 40.80 hours, for all full-time workers, the average weekly work hours was 41.95 hours (to calculate these weekly averages from the BLS, I assumed people worked 5 days a week which is typical for full-time workers, but may overestimate the work hours of those with a H.S. diploma).
Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate how we measure “work” or at least pay close attention to the ways we do so differently for workers at different levels of the hierarchy.
This is quite telling. The high wages exacted by CEOs across America are for shorter weeks than their employees put in (in some cases a lot shorter).
So next time our business elite call for productivity enhancements, we certainly know where to start.
Meanwhile, I might just tell my boss to start paying me for the gym. What’s good for the goose is surely good for the gander.