I first came across the principle of Hourly Worth (HW) in a workshop in 2013 led by global time management guru Brian Tracy, whom I count an important teacher, mentor, and friend in my journey as a trainer and coach. HW is arrived at by dividing your yearly income by the total number of hours you work in a year (Tracy approximates it at 2,000 hours). So, you write down the time you spend at work in a given year minus the holidays and arrive at the total hours. If it is x dollars per hour and you decide to arrive at a better HW, say y dollars per hour, you can do it in two ways.
You either find ways of being better paid for the same hours or reduce the number of hours of work or do both. When I thought about this wonderful tool, I realized it was the beginning of a conversation that had immense value to offer every leader as much as it did to each person the leader was responsible for.
The scope of HW in any conversation on people at work is immense. Let’s consider just one here; the daily commute impact on HW. For instance, any honest evaluation of an employee’s HW from an HR or L&D leader’s perspective must include the hours lost in the daily commute, and the inconvenience caused by it. It must also consider the suffering (which is qualitative but can be measured on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest level of inconvenience) that three to four hours of commuting in a normal working day have on the personal, familial, social and professional life of the employee. The sufferings of daily commuters to a business district are exacerbated by the fact that traffic flows overwhelmingly in one direction during the rush hours.
Now, an employee may not consciously process his HW with such clarity, but the hours lost in overcrowded public transport are nobody’s gain. Seen in perspective, this wastes over ten working days per month in cities like Mumbai. The suburban local rail network in India carries 7.5 million passengers every day, which is 2.6 times its capacity. A train built to carry 2,000 passengers carries around 4,500, which is characterized as a superdense crush load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square metre of floor space.
What this speaks of is the gap between HW seen from the employee’s perspective and the same person’s HW perceived by an organization’s leaders who could be disinclined to take the HW discussion beyond the eight hours they are legally/ professionally responsible for. However, any initiative by an organization that improves the HW from the employee’s perspective is bound to positively impact work efficiency, job satisfaction, attrition and the overall culture of the organization. Examples of how this can be done include the provision of transportation by the company, changing work hours so that employees travel before/ after rush hour, group housing solutions closer to work, instituting longer hours at work in exchange for fewer workdays and shifting to a work from-home model, etc.
HW is a useful tool that helps us gain clarity on the give and take in the work-money binary. I believe that we should consciously pursue this clarity to provide value to all stakeholders in the work ecosystem. The people business is, after all, the compassion business.