When I chose the topic “The Effects of Long Hours Culture on Employee Productivity and Commitment: A case study of the African Reinsurance Corporation” for my dissertation, I knew it was going to require a lot of time and hard work as is always the case when writing dissertations. My understanding of the term “long hours culture” is the practice of consistently working 45 or more hours weekly; it means spending a period of time that is longer than the usual, time that is beyond the required or recommended period (for work in this situation).
This practice is known to have cost employees their lives. The organisation, Africa Re, experienced the loss of an employee within the office premises a couple of years ago. This incident which occurred within the office premises and after the official working hours, led the Management team of the organisation to employ the services of a Health Coach. His duty was to teach employees how to live and eat healthy as well as balance work and personal lives. T
his experience is one of the reasons I chose this topic. I was also of the impression that this topic would throw more insight to the cons or disadvantages of unhealthy work practices. When an organisational culture is constructed around the notion of working hard the organisation is making the statement that it values the work above everything else.
At the end of the day, productivity is what organisations place more focus on and this requires commitment on the part of employees. And when you try to change a culture of hard work you end up having to keep justifying the fact that hard work is not only proven through spending excessively long hours at work. The solution is to redefine the culture in terms of how one thinks success can be achieved while balancing work with our personal lives.
Analysis of This Journey
I never imagined that it was going to be an easy journey; I knew I was going to be challenged by fear, doubts, anxiety (which is normal with me) but most of all, I knew the process would require hard work. I have a very demanding job and there are periods when it can be hectic; this was the case because I had to combine the demands of my job and this programme and this was not easy. I knew this process was going to be demanding and would require a lot of commitment, and I can confidently say that this process was more challenging than I had imagined or anticipated.
One of the first things I did was to make a schedule to guide on how to divide my time between my job and writing my dissertation. I decided that it would be best if I arrived at work an hour earlier to enable me work on the research and after about two hours, continue with my job at the office. There were days when I was able to have a couple of hours for my research and I ensured that they were not wasted. I also had to take a few leave days from work so I could focus on the research. I spent most of my weekends working on my research and even put aside activities such as travelling and social outings with friends, so I could meet the deadline.
Getting feedback was a challenge at first because respondents were reluctant to listen and participate in the process mostly because they were not sure if it was a research that approved by the decision makers in the organisation. I had to obtain permission from the Head of Human Resources and Administration of the organisation before distributing questionnaires. With his help, employees of the organisation were informed about the process and were quick to respond to questions and this gave me more time to put the results together.
I started working on my dissertation on a weekend and struggled with writing most of my ideas down. I was able to make progress after a while especially when I read some existing data and when I had to distribute the questionnaires.
Getting materials for the research was quite a challenge because there are limited number of libraries in the city where I live and since I work full time, I do the majority of my research on weekends. There are two universities in the city where I reside, but they are far from where I live and work and these libraries do not open on weekends. I was also faced with more than two months of not being able to use the libraries because the non-academic staff of the Universities went on an indefinite strike action. I had to rely on materials available online during most of the process.
My Assumptions: I assumed that I would simply walk into the libraries and find books on the topic but this was not the case. I live in Lagos, Nigeria, and I was shocked by the fact that the libraries I visited were not equipped with books written within the last seven to ten years. There were old books which had not been used in years. I know that a lot of reading is done online but I was still shocked by this. Through my search online, I discovered a private library which is not far from where I work and live but they do not open to clients on Saturdays. I was surprised by this because one would assume that people who work and students may choose to study and work on their research on Saturdays which we all know to be a free day for most people.
I had also assumed that I would be able to work within my schedule but indefinite strike action by the staff of the university not only limited my access to research materials but also made me lose a lot of precious time that should have been used researching.
I would say that I learnt a lot during the process and my research skills have definitely improved through this experience.
The alternative ways of looking at the research problem is the realisation that some people do enjoying spending long hours at work; they are workaholics. Others have formed the habit to avoid personal situations such as unhealthy relationships at home and also to avoid rush hour traffic, the spend more time at the office and go home when traffic may have eased off. On the other hand, organisations can solve the issue of long hours and its negative effect on employees by enlightening employees with information on work-life balance.
My research skills prove that I may have to better organize myself if I decide to pursue another post graduate degree in areas such as time management, by making enquiries with regards to where and how to get the necessary materials for the research.
- In order to improve on my work and my research skills, I would do the following:
- Make enquires on how and where I can get study materials before I begin the research process.
- Draw up a schedule or plan for the process which I will do my best to follow.
- Do my best to get my study and research materials as early as possible to avoid issues such as strike actions. I would rather take time off work and study full time rather than part-time. I do believe that had I had more time to focus on the work to be done, my work would have been much better.
This experience has taught me to respect authors and researchers. Their work requires time, dedication, and sometimes a lot of money. I have also learnt that time goes by very fast when one is doing a research and has been given a deadline. Every minute counts during the research process. A research process is never accomplished by the researcher alone, every participant should be appreciated for even agreeing to take part in the research. I have come to realise that if the questionnaires had not been answered, I would have no results to give.
My response to this process if I had to do it again would be to start the process earlier, dedicate more time to researching and ensure that I take time away from work, so I can fully focus on it without any distractions from my job. I would also rather work within the school premises, so I have access to every available material. I have also come to realise that group work helps one get more ideas and learn form the point of view of another person. I do not know if doing a research as a group is easier, but I enjoy working in groups so, I would also like to conclude by saying that I look forward to being part of a research done by a group of people.