The Need of Today is Freedom

Force people to work longer and harder? That was yesterday. If you want to retain your employees and win new ones today, you have to show them appreciation and offer them more flexibility.

Written by Jens Kügler

It’s nice when employees are indispensable. When they’re so infinitely indispensable that they must work immeasurably. My friend B., a woman aged 50, got sick because she was completely exhausted. Exhausted after two weeks of almost uninterrupted early morning and night shifts in non-stop alternation—and after that her shift supervisor gave her another eleven days without a break. B. also because sick from the arguments with the shift leader which did not leave her psyche untouched.

The consequences? The shift supervisor loses B’s (wo)manpower. Not only now, because of the illness, but basically because B. has long since quit her job mentally. In view of the shortage of skilled workers in her social profession, she will not find it difficult to immediately get a new job. However, her shift leader’s problems in recruiting and training replacements for R. will surely be immense. That’s the result of her “job planning”.

B. had just told me her story when a press release from a catering association landed in my mailbox. The association of employers demands from the legislator more flexible working hours for its employees! Well, in the past, German companies in the catering sector were not regarded as working class men’s paradises. But this association has obviously developed sensitivity for how to secure the loyalty of its employees in the “working world 4.0”, as it literally calls it in its communication.

The association considers the statutory maximum working time of eight or up to ten hours a day to be rigid and no longer up to date. The modern reality of life sets new standards. The industry representatives demand that the Working Hours Act should set a weekly maximum working time instead of a daily one. And they are not explicitly concerned about more and longer, but more flexible times. This already exists for other sectors. And the European Working Time Directive provides for it, as the press release further explains.

There is also talk of minimum rest periods, health protection and the protection of minors. Every employee should be able to decide for himself how many days he works and how much hours a day. In this way, everyone can adapt his or her life to his or her leisure time requirements and individual wishes.

That’s the way it goes, dear Mrs. shift leader: A little more life reality in work planning, please!

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