Improve staff loyalty, satisfaction and output in 30 minutes

A.C.T. Action Consulting and Training. Proud sponsor of and a 2016 Clever Company.

You get up, brush up, have a coffee, some fruit and grains and off you go to join the queue on the expressway or the crush on the metro or the queue at the bus stop. You join millions of other workers on a soul-destroying journey of mindless boredom, frustration and wasted time every day only to get to…   yet another queue.


This picture was taken in the basement of an office block in Guangzhou China, as people waited in line for their turn to crush like sardines into the basement lift.

The people in this queue may have started their day looking enthused, energetic and excited but now they looked destroyed, weary and certainly embarrassed to be treated in this humiliating and degrading way with many looking away as I took this picture.

How are they going to act when they finally arrive in the office? Do you think they will suddenly kick into gear and re-awaken their dynamic and creative juices as they enter the office space to spend the day performing wondrous and exciting things for their company?

I very much doubt it, from the resigned looks on most of the people’s faces in this queue you could only expect a mediocre effort at very best – and it is not their fault.

This is the often unseen byproduct of thoughtless management and the age-old thinking that every employee has to start and finish work at the same time but in this modern-day and age, is this really necessary? Could some of these people be set to start 30 minutes earlier and leave 30 minutes earlier each day to avoid some of this ridiculous queuing? What about some staff starting at 7 am, 7.30, 8, 8.30 9.30? Do they all have to start at the same time?

People queuing

Of course, they don’t and there has been talk about flexible working hours for years but for most employees that is all it has been – talk. Have these people and the millions of others like them been given the opportunity to escape this mind-destroying exercise?

Sadly, the answer is no they have not.

We often talk about the benefits of flexible working but for most of us nothing has changed. You may say, ‘well that’s China’ it’s different here but it isn’t. It is an unnecessary evil you will see clogging, roads, pavements, metros and buses across the globe and if you still need proof just look at the traffic queues of any major city between 8 and 9 am.

If you want to improve productivity, loyalty, cooperation, teamwork, job satisfaction, customer service, loyalty and much more than you should think hard about offering rescheduled start times to your employees. Not just to your executive team or nursing parents but to all.

Some people are ‘morning people’ and some are not. With a little imagination, this can be used to great advantage. I worked at a college in the Middle East where some staff started teaching at 7 am and finished after lunch while others started at 11 am and finished at 8 pm. This extended the teaching day from 7 am to 8 pm, maximizing resource use and pleasing most staff by allowing them to choose which shift they worked.

There was a reasonably even balance between staff who preferred to come in early and those who preferred to start later but for some subject areas, people had a limited choice as they had to come in early or late depending on their teaching schedule. Even when start time flexibility was limited some staff members shared early and late shifts with someone else on the same schedule which also had the added benefit of helping to increase coöperation between staff and the pacing of subject delivery.

Some staff still worked 9 to 5 and after a short while of working like this you soon got used to knowing who would be around when you needed them and there was also an ‘early/late’ list for you to check if you needed to.

employee queue

It can be done, and can it have such great benefits if only managers and leaders would spend a little time and imagination on it. The added bonus for me was that when I started at 11 am felt like I was only working half a day. I was working the same hours but it just did not feel like it, perhaps it was partly due to the 30 minutes travelling time saved each way. Even the drive to and from work became pleasurable!

Don’t impose a change, ask. I did at a later college and found again that roughly half of my staff preferred to ‘miss the crush’ and start a little earlier and some did not as they travelled with friends or car shared with someone in a less considerate company.

For me, this was perfect as I wanted to have a good spread of people coming in earlier and staying later as this extended the working day at both ends and made better use of resources and offer a more flexible teaching schedule. We also always knew who would be in early so that we knew who to leave those first thing urgent messages with.

As an added bonus, I also noticed that productivity, loyalty, and coöperation increased and if we were recruiting it was often raised by applicants as a positive reason to work with us because we were considerate to our staff and they liked the idea of being able to miss the ‘main crush’ on their daily commute.

Don’t just apply flexible working for parents or executives think about the majority of your employees and how you can make a significant positive impact on their day and your bottom line.

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Author CW

Posted in Clever Learner, Clever Management, Cleverness at work.