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On those that need to work harder

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, March 15th, 2012 - 14 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, economy, employment, jobs, uncategorized, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

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.

14 comments on “On those that need to work harder ”

  1. Jim Nald 1

    Haah … I know a certain NZ CEO who would often spend time doing, erm … helping with his daughter’s university assignment, eg to the extent of phoning around other CEOs and government departments for information, further contacts, and summer holiday ‘intern opportunities’.

    And just before she graduated, he was also emailing around to organise his daughter’s postgraduate studies at Oxbridge. He was using his office resources and his working hours to do this, eg email and web access to search for information and also printing. Oh, and not to mention the position he held – he would introduce himself on the phone and in mail correspondence relating to his daughter’s stuff by mentioning his CEO position.

    His staff would be aware of all of this (their meetings were sometimes rescheduled when the deadline for his, erm his daughter’s, assignments had to be met!). And then there was his personal assistant who often had to type his handwritten work for his daughter … and had to stay back a bit after 5pm.

    Wottabusyofficelife 🙂

    • Populuxe1 1.1

      You do realise you are dissing a father actively involved in his child’s education and future, don’t you? If that takes precedence over work, I’m not going to complain.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        I can’t say that I’m surprised to see that you missed the point.

        • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1

          I saw the point, but unlike you apparently I can cope with more than one thought at a time. I am merely pointing out the corollary to the analogy.

          • felix 1.1.1.1.1

            What bullshit. There’s no analogy involved.

            In the example given the CEO is conducting personal private business on company time, diverting company resources for his own personal and private use, and being paid for doing so.

            • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Yep, was tired when I wrote that – I meant to say “example”. But still, interesting that you will bag a father doing something constructive for his child’s education (keeping in mind, for all we know he worked through all his breaks or pulled a late night) just because it suits your desire to get all self-righteous about management.

              • felix

                I guess you’re still tired then, ‘cos no-one’s bagging a father for doing something constructive for his child’s education at all.

                They’re bagging him for sending the shareholders of the company a bill for doing something constructive for his child’s education.

                There’s no way you could possibly confuse those two very different ideas. Except willfully, of course.

                • Populuxe1

                  Nah – I just like trolling the self-righteous when they start acting like their shit doesn’t stink.

  2. Bob Stanforth 2

    So, 65 CEO’s, one month. Nothing on size of organisation, type, staff, industry, nothing. Wow, way to go on broad brush statements like…

    “So next time our business elite call for productivity enhancements, we certainly know where to start”.

    With a representative data set, that might be a better start. But dont let that get in the way of drawing massive assumptions based on a ‘study’.

  3. John72 3

    Bob Stanforth made an interesting observation which everyone will probably ignore. The report was lacking in detail.
    The CEO is not usually working on the shop floor so how do you compare the two groups? No doubt there are plenty of CEOs “working the oracle” but hopefully there are some good ones too. How do we recognise which is which?

    • felix 3.1

      “The CEO is not usually working on the shop floor …”

      Or anywhere else, apparently.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Please recognise that one can work productively at the local golf club or boat club. Especially with champers in hand.

        • Populuxe1 3.1.1.1

          I’ve always found it so – two thirds of my contracts have come about through schmoozing in similar, though not as high-falootin, circumstances… Purely in the interest of business, you understand….

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