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As I’ve said many times, I read a lot of magazines.
Because it’s hard to get a lot of stuff in China – and I don’t find reading stuff on my iPad nearly as enjoyable, even if I often have no other choice – I have found that on top of all my usual [and unusual] titles, I am also devouring any magazine I can find in a shop … which in China’s case, is often a business title.
Over the years, I have always checked these kind of magazines out, however as they’re now the only titles I can get in ‘classic paper form’, it seems I’ve started noticing what they say in much greater detail.
Without doubt they are informative.
Without doubt they talk about issues and subjects that relate to my clients and my job.
But on top of all that, they also all promote a way of life that is totally unconducive to health, happiness and family.
Take this article in Fortune:
[See it a bit clearer here]
I have no idea who this woman is – and without doubt she is highly successful – but does she come across as the sort of person you’d want as your Mum … or your wife … or your girlfriend.
Does she come across as the sort of person you’d want to be with?
Does she come across as the sort of person you’d want to be?
I’m sure there some bits that sound attractive, but I’m not talking about ‘bits’, I’m talking about how she lives her life in its entirety, each and every day … would you like that?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not some ‘women should stay at home’ rant – they’re countless articles where Wei Hopeman could be exchanged for some male executive – but the issue I have is the general attitude in all these magazines is that ‘giving your all to your job is the only way you can succeed in your job’.
Sadly that might be true.
I accept that maybe the people featured in these magazines are very happy with how their life is going … but wouldn’t it be nice if there were articles on successful people who lived a healthier, more balanced life?
I do find it interesting that so many execs leave jobs and say it was ‘so they could spend more time with their family’.
Why does it have to be one or the other?
If you ask my wife, she’d say I’m a bit of a hypocrite saying all this because – believe it or not – I work quite a lot and have done more travel in the last 10 years than some pilots [maybe] … but a healthy and happy workforce is as commercially beneficial to an organisation as a dedicated and effective workforce and the reality is that in many cases, these two scenarios are not mutually exclusive.
I hate that companies think it’s OK be able to call upon you whenever and wherever they like.
I hate that companies think they can veto your pre-planned holiday.
I hate that companies are starting to charge their staff to train them.
I hate that companies have created an atmosphere where going home at the proper hour means you’re not dedicated to your job.
I hate that companies act like paying you a salary means they own you.
That’s why I love that Volkswagen [albeit because of union pressure] have mandated that their work email servers are turned off 30 mins after official office closing time and will only be turned on 30 minutes before the working day.
Sure, that will only benefit some people [though it’s a lot of people] but I genuinely think that’s a brilliant move.
Is it enough?
Will it change anything?
Who knows – without doubt it might mean more of the working day gets taken up answering all the held back emails – but since when was answering emails when you’re at home part of the job?
OK, so for some people, it could be argued that their level of remuneration means there has to be a greater level of flexibility as regards their working hours … but even then it shouldn’t mean they have no ‘personal time’ whatsoever.
But what’s scarier is that there seems to be this attitude that EVERYONE should think and act this way, regardless of family circumstances, level of responsibility or pay.
Why do they think this is acceptable?
Believe it or not, some people feel a balanced life – be it with family, friends or just themselves – makes them as rich as having a bank account filled with gold.
Companies are forever talking about their ‘staff being their greatest asset’ but their actions seem contrary to this.
It appears they think a salary counters any personal sacrifice you make – or are made to make – on their behalf.
As much as Wei might be happy with how she lives her life … as much money as she might be making for herself, the bank and their customers … if I was thinking about joining them and read that article, I would run a mile.
Of course Citibank would think I’m weak, because they – like all bankers – think they’re all powerful, all conquering, super machines … but if they were that good, they wouldn’t have fucked up with the economy as badly as they did.
Mind you, they did also manage to convince Governments to bail them out so they could continue earning obscene salaries so maybe they are smarter than the rest of us.
But being smart isn’t as wonderful as being happy and living a lifestyle isn’t as rewarding as living a life and while business magazines have to talk about business, it would be good if they occasionally celebrated the companies and individuals who succeed with a more balanced type of life.
Sure, they might not be as rich as those who sacrifice all to ‘the commercial cause’ [though that is open to debate] but if the commercial value of a happy, rested, fulfilled employee was more greatly acknowledged and appreciated, maybe we’d start seeing more companies treat their workforce like an investment than simply an asset.
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