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Does working longer hours make successful?

01.08.2019
Ulrich Spranger
Ulrich Spranger
The Alibaba boss, Jack Ma, is of the firm opinion that longer working hours are a career booster. Those who do not work long enough can hardly count on success. However, is the multi-billionaire really right with this opinion?

Work six days a week from 9am to 9pm: This is what Jack Ma, founder and head of the online retailer Alibaba, calls for. On the social network Weibo, the 40-times billionaire wrote that a 72-hour week was »no problem at all«. It would only be problematic for people who don't like their work anyway.

I think: It goes without saying that work has to be paid for. And the vast majority of people also need a private life. The weekly working hours that should be worked are always specified in our contracts. And, in the commercial sector, overtime has always to be paid. However, what about employees who can achieve success in very different ways? A sales representative can call a hundred people in eight hours, or just two. It is possible that the person who only makes two calls is the more successful employee because he puts all his efforts into those two customers. Or maybe he daydreams for half the day. Who knows? How often do people go on a cigarette break? Do they make business calls during that time or do they discuss issues with a colleague or do they rather play games on their mobile phone? Does an employee run like a clockwork and leave on time while "stealing" two hours from the workday through WhatsApp or private chats?

Exactly – Jack Ma excludes the group of people who, in the morning, think about how many minutes they can "pocket" from their employer from the get-go, because they won't be successful anyway. However, can a company »expect« that someone will work more than is stated in the contract? At which annual salary can a company start expecting this attitude? 40.000 euros per year? 80.000 euros? Then you could also say: »If you want to earn these 80,000 euros, you must first show that you are prepared to do all this.« Just as you used to have to work for free for years as an intern in the advertising industry, around the clock, hoping to get a good job later on.

My opinion: Complete nonsense. Those who are counting every minute at work don't have fun. Obviously not the employee – because if the work is not done, he takes stress back home – and neither does the employer. The employer does not care about the visits to the toilet if the results are good.

But what if an employee in a commercial department, where he wants to make a career, complains about the fact that there is occasional training outside working hours? Of course, he can demand overtime pay or free time. However, an employer can also expect an employee to train further. It's bad enough that the company even has to initiate this. Believe me, I have already seen that participation in a Christmas party was accounted for as overtime.

What about dinner with customers, suppliers or colleagues? Is that working time or free food? For me, for example, this is fun in most cases. And if you don't enjoy your work, you probably won't succeed either. Maybe that's the deciding factor.
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