Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. In 1958 Mao promoted a “Great Leap Forward” in economic development and insisted that steel production is increased to catch up with the industrialised world.
To meet his high steel production targets, ordinary people were roped in and made to melt down every scrap of metal that could be found in small furnaces. Goals were met but most of it was worthless metal, and it left people without pots and pans in which to cook, not that that mattered because they had nothing to eat anyway.
Having diverted so many millions of farmers from their fields for his steel drive, crop production dropped drastically and further added to the already desperate food shortages. They’d also cut down trees and used the wood from people’s houses to fuel the furnaces, increasing homelessness. Some historians estimate up to 55 million deaths occurred as a result of Mao’s decisions. Mao did little to learn from the mistakes of those countries he wanted to catch up with.
The terrible working conditions in the early 1800’s during the Industrial Revolution with a long line of people willing to work, employers could set wages as low as they wanted.
People worked fourteen to sixteen hours a day for six days a week in the most appalling conditions with minimum light and very unhealthy smoke from machines. Unskilled workers only received about $8-$10 dollars a week, working at approximately 10 cents an hour. Women received one-third or sometimes one-half the pay that men earned. Children received even less. Owners, who were only concerned with making a profit, were satisfied because labour cost less.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?
Is fear, abuse and taking advantage of others all we can do to raise profits?
Beyond the noticeable effects on health, working too much can impair cognitive function. We get stupider when we work too much.
In one five-year study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants completed a variety of tests to evaluate intelligence, verbal recall, and vocabulary. Comparing to those who worked 40 hours per week, those who worked 55 hours per week showed poorer vocabulary and reasoning.
“That output does not rise or fall in direct proportion to the number of hours worked is a lesson that seemingly has to be relearned each generation.” As Tom Walker puts it in his Prosperity Covenant
The widespread abuse of women and children in the workplace resulted that in 1848, the English parliament passed the Factories Act which was a ten hour work day.
But then in the 1890s employers experimented with the eight hour day and repeatedly found that total output-per-worker increased.
Henry Ford was the first to understand that less work and happy employees were the way to improve company success.
In the first decades of the 20th century, by 1914, convinced by years of in-house research, Henry Ford took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight.
Ford’s business boomed as a result.
In 1937, after Henry Ford’s success, the 40-hour week was cast in stone. Five decades of industrial research proved that to keep your profits up, you need to keep your employees happy.
There are now whole industries and entire branches of medicine devoted to handling workplace stress showing that people who have enough time to eat, sleep, play a little, exercise, and maintain their relationships don’t get sick.
The original short-work movement in 19th-century Britain demanded “eight for work, eight for sleep, and eight for what we will.” It’s still a formula that works.
Today other modern companies know the truth:
The Economic Times Magazine reported that “To help its employees gain creativity, focus and happiness, Microsoft has built treehouse workspaces with embedded tech at its Redmond campus that will serve as meeting spaces and a more casual work environment. “ and
“Supporting our people must begin at the most fundamental level – their physical and mental health and wellbeing. It is only from strong foundations that they can handle … complex issues.” Matthew Thomas, Manager – Employee Relations, Ernst and Young from the report Healthy People = Healthy Profits Source:
In their paper “Happiness and Productivity” Andrew J. Oswald and his team provide evidence that happiness makes people more productive. In three different types of experiments, randomly selected individuals are made happier resulting in approximately 12% higher productivity.
At Fortix, we aim to help every business excel in having happy employees providing resources that will increase productivity by automating tedious tasks. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.