Re: Average Hours Worked

Subject: Re: Average Hours Worked
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 09:52:31 -0400

In discussing required work hours I asked:
<<What job am I being hired to accomplish?>>

Andrew responds:
<<Write documentation, I presume. If you don't know what job you were hired to
accomplish, then I would say you and your employer have a serious communication
problem. Which says something about you (a professional communicator) and your

Of course as a techwriter you're hired to write documentation. You're being
either argumentative or extremely dense to try and allude that anyone on this
list has thought otherwise. But, if you're that lost or won't put any effort
into understanding the discussion, the question is: how much documentation? As
much as the employer wants without limit?

<<Most executives don't really care about hours, they care about results. They
don't really care if you worked 35 hours or 45 hours. They want to see results.
Projects done, customers happy, sales increasing, etc.>>

All managers care about number of hours worked. The only managers that don't are
managers who have hired a contractor on a fixed cost contract.

<<Employees are hired to fill a need within an organization. You don't hire
people just to be there. People are hired to fill a need and get work done. You
are useless to your employer if you are not helping the organization sell its
products, serve its customers, etc.>>

Yes all employees are hired to fill a need. Do you like hearing the sound of
your own voice? Certainly seems like it if all you can do is argue truisms that
everybody agrees with yet still put people down with insults and personal
griping. The point this thread was trying to address is how much work is
reasonable to be expected to do.

When I pointed out that most people working lots of overtime are not obsessing
over mundane aspects of the job Andrew responds:

<<No, but some do. They become disassociated with the purpose of their job
(produce docs). This causes them to consume time with obsessions and one-off
work. In the effort to &#34;work better&#34; they &#34;work zero.&#34;>>

Fine, some people obsess. You know what? This is a tune that was played
repeatedly in the past and it's fairly pathetic that an opinion of the list at
large is based on such a negative assumption. Why not approach the discussion
from a mature perspective that the members of the list are conscientious
professionals who do an honest days work.

<<Or maybe what you really mean is: &#34;before everybody was agreeing with me
(or disagreeing in a soft, pleasing manner), now I am getting seriously
challenged from a person with a fundamentally different perspective and the
rhetorical might to communicate that perspective, and I don't like that. So I
will just attack him and get him to go away again.&#34;>>

Hmm, seeing as there has been so little logical content in the diatribes on this
subject to date it's very difficult to see what there is to attack or defend in
the way of argument. <<rhetorical might >> **LOL** I think Goober put it right
when saying <<Countering fact with opinion, man, I missed that about you. *lol*
>>. In many posts the logic content couldn't be used to beat your way out of a
wet paper bag. Most of the complaints and calls for others to stop whining is
due to a twisting of words and ignoring the intent and current direction of
discussion. Like this thread. Never has anyone said they don't want to get the
job done. Nor has anyone said they want to sit around and do nothing for 40
hours a week. Yet these false assumptions and others form the basis of Andrews
arguments on the list on this subject.

<<WHOA! You said &#34;contract&#34; we need to see some exact wording there,
dude. I don't have any contracts that say: &#34;Hey man, come on in for 40 hours
a week and I'll pay you 50K a year. Oh and yeah, like sometimes, bummer dude,
you might have to like work extra.&#34;>>

I have to say 'WHOA!'. Where exactly on this planet are you working? Absolutely
every salaried working agreement lists a salary and benefits based on a certain
number of hours per week. Usually with the disclaimer that those hours are an
'average'. The illogical nature of the arguments astounds me. In Andrew's world,
it seems that as a salaried employee you sign on for an amount with no
connection to output and that you must work all the hours that the employer
wants without limit. Fine we all accept that employment contracts may state the
minimum requirements. But what do you do when you meet or exceed the minimum yet
in your performance reviews the manager comes up with "the culture is to do more
hours and your time at work is not acceptable by those standards". Also, I doubt
anybody has signed a work agreement that states "For 50k a year you'll work all
hours God sends".

For Andrew and others who might be a little slow on the uptake as to what the
discussion is about I'll repeat myself and others. What if you ARE performing
your duties in 5 hours a day, you ARE delivering all or your deliverables
on-time and in excellent quality, you don't waste ANY time during the day, and
the boss oblivious to your workload and performance continues to give you extra
work that is impossible to finish without continuous overtime and loss of
weekends. ****Note to the logically impaired: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CONTINUOUS

To my highly exaggerated example which tried to get an answer to the above the
response is:<<What was preventing you from getting the job done in 5, 8 hour
days?>>. Time to take the medication so that it might be possible to see the
point of my example. Not sure I can make it more blazingly obvious. If you are
getting everything that is humanly possible accomplished in 8 hours a day, how
do you deal with bosses that demand more?

Or, how do you deal with the bosses that demand overtime presence without extra
workload? A friend was once chastised by their boss for never putting in 'extra
effort'. In reality the others he was being compared with did 'overtime' every
day because they took 2 hour lunches and hung around talking in each others
cubicles continuously.

<<If I were you're boss, I'd ask: why they hell can't this
&#34;professional&#34; get this job done in a normal work schedule?>>

Umm. We weren't talking about *MY* boss. They're quite decent here. If it were a
professional manager they might realise that they were overloading their

<<As I have said 100000s of times, Eric, if your employer's work environment
does not suit your needs, you are welcome to turn in a resignation and go find
an employer that DOES suit your needs. You're not chained to the desk. You have
free will - exercise it.>>

Once again, not talking about my situation. So we're all supposed to jump ship
every time there's a problem? Is there no issue that we can't discuss with our
employers as grown-ups to improve the situation? The other problem is that if
the only response of an employee is to be steam-rolled or to walk, more and more
employers get away with treating employees badly and it becomes the 'norm'.

<<Generally, companies that treat employees like crap don't retain the best
employees. They retain victims who enjoy being abused. And these people rarely
turn out quality material because they're too busing masticating over how poorly
they are treated.>>

Normally, true. But brain washed victim types can be made into a very successful
company. Look at Walmart and South-West Jet (? think that's the name).

<<Likewise, employees who don't get the work done and don't live up to
expectations generally get kicked around from company to company until they
either wise up or become one of these victim types.>>

Without the hyperbole and put-downs I think this is what is trying to be
discussed by everyone else on list. With the current state of affairs in a lot
of industries they're only looking for people who'll be both. Hard-working
victim types. But I think that's even another issue than those asked previously.

<<Either way - you have control. Exercise it. But don't complain how The Man
took control of your life and made you suffer. You LET The Man take control of
your life and make you suffer.>>

As the owner of a company I don't think you're terribly well placed to comment
on the freedom of average workers. But personally I do believe the best way to
combat excessive demands of employers is face up to them and tell your boss when
enough is enough. Many times you can't be taken advantage of unless you allow
it. Unfortunately there are many situations beyond the control of the average
worker. There is a need for unfair dismissal laws. If you are doing everything
that should be expected of you, you shouldn't have to decide to walk or put up
with it.

Eric L. Dunn

Andrew, if you work in the computer security industry, think you could figure
out how to send plain text to the list?

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