What are you doing about workplace bullying?

workplace bullyingWhat are you doing about workplace bullying? You wouldn’t accept sexual harassment as normal in the workplace, nor would you accept violence in your workplace, but there’s a 40% chance that bullying is happening in your workplace right now (1), so not doing anything about workplace bullying is taking a pretty big risk.

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying involves repeated malicious mistreatment of one employee by one or more coworkers. Sometimes the bullying is intentional, chronic and takes the form of unrealistic job demands, unreasonable criticism, an inconsistent and unfair work environment, refusal to give credit where it’s due, insults, screaming, put-downs, refusal to communicate, and other forms of disrespectful and abusive behaviour (2).

Less frequently, workplace bullying is unintentional and comes from employees who are overly competitive, socially inept, or have substance abuse issues.

According to the Canada Safety Council, 72% of workplace bullying comes from people in positions of authority (3), so it’s not correct to assume that bullying is only happening between peers.

What is the effect of bullying on business?

The effect of workplace bullying on your business can be remarkably damaging: Increased absenteeism, increased employee turnover, stress, increased costs for employee assistance programs, more frequent workplace accidents, decreased morale and productivity, bad corporate image and poor customer service(4).  Businesses spend a great deal of effort trying to minimize risk in virtually every aspect of their operations, so it doesn’t take a great leap of logic to understand how any of those effects individually would be worrisome, but cumulatively they’re potentially devastating to your business, your employees, your managers and your customers.

Even worse, take a look at these breathtaking statistics about “what stopped the bullying behaviour?” from a 2017 survey on workplace bullying (6):

  • It hasn’t stopped -25%
  • Target of bullying behaviour quits to escape mistreatment – 23%
  • Target of bullying behaviour experiences retaliation then quits – 12%
  • Target is terminated – 8%
  • Target is transferred within same company – 11%
  • Bully is punished but kept job – 17%
  • Bully is terminated – 11%
  • Bully quit – 8%
  • Company investigated, changed policy, or did something positive – 10%

Adding those numbers up, we can see that in 36% of cases, the bully sees some consequence for their behaviour, but in 54% of cases the victim of bullying loses their job. Clearly, there is a substantial problem with how organizations are failing to deal with bullies.

So, what are you doing about workplace bullying in your organization?

Does your workplace have a policy around bullying? If so, is it enforced? Many organizations give lip service to fair and equitable treatment of employees, but when push comes to shove, human resources fail to enforce policies and procedures that are supposed to protect targets from bullies. Having a policy that isn’t enforced is doubly damaging as employees see what is happening and know the organization is failing them by not holding the bully accountable.

Does your workplace provide training on bullying and other forms of harassment in the workplace? If so, is it mandatory for everyone including managers and executives? Some organizations provide opportunities for training, but make it optional for managers or executives, which is clearly a mistake when 72% of bullies are in positions of authority. For this kind of training to work, it needs to be company-wide, and it needs to be reinforced on a regular basis.  Fortunately, e-learning courses on this topic are cost-effective to develop and provide fantastic ROI by avoiding costly litigation in the future.

The best approach is to treat bullying like any other kind of violence in the workplace: Develop robust policies and procedures to handle it, make sure those policies are enforced, and provide mandatory and frequent training on violence and bullying and harassment in the workplace, so bullies and targets alike know what is not acceptable and how to deal with it (6).

As always, Verticc is ready to help with your e-learning needs.

1 Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26

2 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html

3 Canada Safety Council https://canadasafetycouncil.org/workplace-safety/working-bully

4 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html

5 Workplace Bullying Institute http://www.workplacebullying.org/category/science/

6 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html

 

Fender Play

man learning guitar on computerYesterday, July 6 2017 Fender launched their Fender Play service. You can learn more about it here, but in a nutshell, Fender Play is an online, subscription-based e-learning tool that teaches beginning guitar players how to play.

This is worth looking at for a few different reasons.

First, Fender used data analytics to understand their market. It turns out that while 45% of new guitar sales are new buyers, over 90% of those buyers quit in the first year, and most of those within the first 90 days. They realized that if they could reduce the abandonment rate by just 10% by making learning the basics easier, they’d double their business and potentially double their entire industry.

Second, Fender appears to have done their research as far as creating quality curriculum goes. They hired experts to ensure everything was technically correct. They also designed the curriculum for “quick win” so that learners would feel the rush of success early, helping to drive retention and avoiding rage-quits. They’ve broken down each skill into easily accessible, bite-sized pieces, and embedded the whole thing into an LMS that tracks learner progress and provides feedback as they go. They also designed the Fender Play curriculum to dispense with much of the theory, sticking to basic, frequently used chord structures that represent 90% of the music beginners want to play on guitar. Meaning, they designed the curriculum to avoid cognitive overload by avoiding irrelevant knowledge and focusing on immediately applicable skills that provide significant intrinsic rewards for the learners.

Third, Fender invested in quality all the way through. For example, they hired professional film crews and set up a studio to produce the Fender Play online training. They also used multiple camera angles to capture the intricacies of each movement, making it easy for learners to focus on the part they need, instead of what the producer assumes they’ll need.

Fourth, Fender includes hundreds of songs for students to pick from, as much as they want. From a learning perspective, they’ve made the material relevant to the learner, and provided a way for students to choose their own learning path. Rather than forcing students to learn from a limited selection of songs, students can choose the genre and style that appeals to them, further increasing the odds of retention.

Finally, Fender made the price point accessible. At $19.99 per month, Fender Play is relatively cheap to start learning. Plus, because their content is digital, Fender can redeploy as many times as they have customers.

Think about these ideas might be relevant to your company and customers. Do you educate your customers on your product or service? Do you need to? How much would it increase your business and profit? Do you have the right skills and expertise to design the curriculum?

As always, feedback is welcome.

6 Misconceptions About Building a Corporate Learning Community

Smiling member of a corporate learning community on a tablet

What is stopping you from developing a corporate learning community?

I had a fascinating conversation the other day with a senior human resources professional who happened to be in charge of the training and development for her organization. We were talking about some of the challenges she was facing because of the geographically distributed nature of the company, and I suggested that working to establish an online corporate learning community might be a useful approach. However, she cut me off and said that it seemed like too much effort and she preferred to use more traditional methods.

This got me to thinking, what worries are standing in the way of any organization developing a corporate learning community? While it isn’t a complete list, this is what popped up when I did a quick search on Google, but I welcome your input and feedback:

It seems too difficult to create a corporate learning community

If it seems hard to build a learning community, you’re probably right… but that doesn’t mean it’s TOO difficult. However, consider that NOT having a learning community is probably holding much of the knowledge and growth potential in your organization hostage, so the payoff for your efforts is likely very substantial. Also, a common misconception about corporate learning communities is that someone has to be pushing the content 24-7, which just isn’t true. Building a corporate learning community is about providing the structure through which staff can both contribute knowledge while learning new skills when they need them. If I can make an analogy, it would be providing the canvas on which some artists can paint, rather than painting on their behalf.

It takes too long to build a corporate learning community

True, building a learning community is a long-term process and doesn’t happen without some investment in time and effort. In fact, a learning community should never stop evolving and growing… if it does, something has gone terribly wrong. Corporate learning communities should inspire your staff to share their expertise in a given area, while offering them insight into other areas in which they might not yet have skills, but have an interest nonetheless. Thus, over time, your staff will get comfortable adding information, articles, examples, maybe even videos or diagrams, but they key is that it takes time for the drip of contributions to become a river of knowledge from which everyone can drink. The best practice is to provide the structure, guidance and assistance where needed, and to promote the community to the organization so it doesn’t fade into obsolescence.

The learners won’t contribute / No support for a corporate learning community

If learners aren’t contributing their own knowledge and skills to your corporate learning community, it’s pointing to a bigger problem in your corporate culture or communication structure. When staff feel like they are valued as people (as opposed to just worker bees) they will feel a desire to share what they know to help the organization and their peers thrive. Disengaged staff won’t contribute and might even sabotage or disregard the contributions of others, so it’s worthwhile to ensure your corporate culture is healthy before embarking on building a learning community. By the way, e-learning contributes to employee engagement if you need a head start on that part.

I don’t think we are big enough to need a corporate learning community

Size doesn’t really matter when it comes to corporate learning communities, and in fact, the best time to start is when the organization is small enough to make it part of the normal day to day operations for now and in the future. Plus, when you’re small, you’re agile, so it’s probably easier to get the key knowledge when there is less of it to capture than later when there’s hundreds or thousands of positions and roles to deal with.

The technology is too complex / expensive

How about no and no? Any shared resource can become a kind of learning community platform. Got a network drive? It works. Got Slack? It works. Got a CMS? It works. Got an LMS? You’re practically there. Don’t have an LMS?  Get one and reap the benefits.

I’m worried about lame contributions, link rot and stale knowledge

OK, this is a valid concern. In response, though, I’d say those are good problems to have because it means that you’ve got a system that is working, but it needs a little TLC in the form of content curation. Content curation is a somewhat new (and growing) field in adult education, as trainers and instructors look to leverage existing material rather than reinventing the wheel, and there is plenty of good information out there on how to apply content curation to your training and development needs. Again, good curation is a long-term commitment, but it ensures a steady supply of relevant and timely knowledge, and it also acts to cut loose (or at least archive) stale information that has seen better days. Finally, curation can (and should) be a shared responsibility among your staff, so the onus for maintaining the body of knowledge doesn’t fall onto one person: many hands make light work, as they say.

I’m sure there are more reasons why training and development managers aren’t pursuing communities of learning in their organizations, but these are the ones (and their counter arguments) that jumped into my head. Please feel free to share your insights and experience on this topic, and thanks for reading.

Crafting Effective Outcomes and Objectives for Business

business person with article title and logoCrafting effective outcomes and objectives is a skill, and like every skill, it is grounded in certain fundamentals.  And, like every skill, it is something that can be learned and practiced.

EFFECTIVE OUTCOMES – WHAT IS BEST PRACTICE?

In the field of education, you’ll find reams of information about writing outcomes, objectives, goals, and skill statements.  Every institute or educational system adopts and/or adapts the information into their own version of what works for them.  In my 30 years of teaching, the institute in which I worked went through at least four iterations of “best practice” in writing outcomes and objectives.  Each change was based on educational research and implemented to improve learner success. 

Business trainers, however, often lack the support of educational research departments. That lack of support can be reflected in less effective outcomes and objectives.

Outcome and Objective – What’s the difference?

Crafting an outcome is, in my opinion, a better phrase than writing an outcome.  I like the dictionary.com definition of crafting: “an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill” (2017).  Crafting is a better term because it alludes to more than one step in the process of getting to an effective outcome.  

Outcome vs. objective – often, these terms are used interchangeably.  That’s okay as most often the process that goes into crafting them is much the same.  However, I’ve found it better to differentiate the terms based on what I’m trying to describe.  If I want to describe an end result, a skill-set that must be demonstrated, I call it an outcome.  If I am describing a small component of that skill-set (e.g. a single skill or concept), I use the term objective.

Crafting an outcome begins with identifying what the company wants the employee to be able to do–a skill set–and how well it should be done. The next step is to break down the skill-set into individual skills.  Those individual skills become the basis for the objectives.

The final component of crafting effective outcomes and objectives is choosing the right verbs.  Outcomes usually require the learner to do something complex:  make a decision, assess a situation, respond to a complaint.  The verbs used in outcomes reflect that complexity: apply, assess, compose.  We call them high cognitive verbs.  Because objectives reflect single skills, they are commonly written with verbs of a lower cognitive level: choose, list, explain.

Effective Outcomes and Objectives – a business example

For example, a company wants customer service representatives to respond to complaint e-mails in a way that addresses the complaint fairly and still retains that customer’s business.  The outcome could be “compose a grammatically correct complaint response e-mail.”  The outcome describes an end-result skill-set. 

The components of that skill-set include grammar, writing strategies for complaint responses, tone, knowledge of company policy, and proper business e-mail format.  Each of those components would be developed into one or more objectives.  For example, addressing the content of a complaint could involve the employee:

  1. Identifying the best writing strategies for saying yes to a complaint request.
  2. Identifying the best writing strategies for saying no to a complaint request.

For the trainer, building lessons one or two objectives at a time allows for better coverage of each skill and assessment of each employee.  For the employee, mastering skills one at a time can be less intimidating than try to learn everything at once. As employees master each skill, they develop the skill-set required to achieve the outcome.  Finally, as we all know, when employees have the skills and are achieving the desired outcome, your business will perform better.

 

 

Good Instructional Design is Based on Goals and Needs

Two young professionals relaxed and happy after learning about good instructional design

“Our second-worst assumption as teachers is that if we don’t cover something in class, the students won’t learn it. Our worst assumption is that if we do, they will.”

–Richard Felder, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University

This quote was instrumental in the development of my philosophy on education. Sadly, for the students who were in my classes during the first years of my teaching career as an instructor for Respiratory Therapy, I believed that if I covered a topic in a lecture or in a handout, my students would learn the material.  It was not good instructional design.  To them, I apologize, and I realize now that they learned despite my actions, not because of them. 

What Isn’t Good Instructional Design

Designing instruction is so much more than learning the material yourself and then telling the learners what they need to remember out of all there is to know. Instructional design is the systematic development of activities, based on sound learning and instructional strategies, which engage the learner and promote learning.  Designing those activities considers the needs and goals of both the learner and the organization (student/institute or employee/employer).

Most of us who train or teach at a post-secondary level or within a business organization are there because someone thought we knew enough about our own careers to explain it to others; it wasn’t because we’re trained teachers. Often, as new instructors or trainers, we’re provided with mini courses on how to instruct, but it is hard to cram into three or four weeks what teachers learn in their three- or four-year degree programs.  And because our institutes expect graduates and our businesses expect competent employees, we feel we have to provide the learners with everything they need to know to graduate or do the job.  In an effort to meet the institute or organization’s needs and goals, we miss the needs and goals of the learner.  The result is this:  we usually lecture. 

What Is Good Instructional Design

When we consider the needs and goals of the learner, instruction becomes less instructor- or trainer-focused, and more learner-focused. From our very beginnings, we learned by asking questions (Why can’t I do that? What is that?  How does it work?), by doing (learning to walk, run, and swim), by arguing and negotiating (If I keep my room clean, can I go out on Saturday night until midnight?), and by quietly contemplating the situation (Remember that three-minute time out?).  How often did we tune out the lecture from a parent or a teacher?  After 33 years of teaching at a post-secondary institute, I can tell you that students still tune out a lecture that lasts longer than about eight minutes, no matter how good the lecturer. 

Good instructional design builds in asking questions. Good questions from the instructor or trainer can get learners thinking about why course material is important.  Questions from the learners provide opportunities to clarify and explore course material more deeply.  Questions that you can’t answer are the best questions of all.  They provide an opportunity for everyone to research, discuss, and learn.  Good instruction provides opportunity for doing:  for trying a new skill in a safe environment, for practicing, and for providing and receiving feedback without evaluation.  Also, good instructional design promotes discussions and debates (sans instructor input) about course material, such as the best methods of handling problems or the fastest and/or safest way to complete a procedure.  Good instructional design builds in opportunities for quiet contemplation of the lesson’s content so that the learners can integrate new material into what they already know.

Instructional design that considers the goals and needs of the learner, as well as the institute or organization, can promote success for both.

 

Your Company is Probably Unethical, and How to Start Fixing It

I received an unsettling phone call the other day from a former colleague, and it gave me some pause for thought about ethics, or more specifically, the problem of unethical companies. 

This person had been punished for standing up to an unethical supervisor, and after enduring months of abuse, finally quit in frustration.  Human resources gave lip service to the organizations ethical directives, but didn’t provide adequate support, and senior management willfully ignored the abuse.  In the end, no one was held to account and the organization lost a brilliant employee but retained a problem one.

Unethical by the Numbers

Did it have to turn out badly?  At some point, every organization faces an ethical dilemma.  In a 2012 study, the five most frequently observed ethical breaches were misuse of company time (33%), abusive behaviour (21%), abuse of company resources (20%), lying to employees (20%), and violating corporate Internet use policies (16%).  However, the study notes that just because the unethical behaviour was noticed by someone does not mean that the violation was reported to management, so these numbers are likely much higher.

Often, the nature of the ethical misconduct was the biggest influencer on whether an employee is willing to report it.  For example, theft and kickback payments were reported by nearly 70% of staff who witnessed them, but Internet use policy violations tended to be reported by only 43% of staff who observed them.  Clearly, the results are skewed by employees who report only certain unethical behaviours, effectively minimizing the scope of the problem.  This means that, statistically speaking, the odds are high your company has a problem with ethics.

Unethical Retaliation

Just as alarming, however, is the rapidly increasing level of retaliation for whistle-blowing reported by employees.  Not only did the frequency of retaliation by management nearly double from 12% to 22% between 2007 and 2012, but the severity of the punishment increased as well.  Similarly, the percentage of employees who reported being pressured to compromise the company ethical standards or even break the law jumped from 8% to 13% in the same time frame.  This suggests that problems with ethics are not isolated to the rank-and-file, but permeate throughout an organization.

Supporting that assertion is the correlation between ethical culture and ethical behaviour.  Having a strong ethical culture is highly correlated with lower observed misconduct (7%), and the reverse is true that weak ethical cultures are highly correlated with high rates of observed misconduct (90%).  Employees also felt that their senior leaders were becoming increasingly incapable of managing ethically (62% down from 68%) and immediate supervisors fared little better at 66%, down from 76%.

These points should be making you think about what you are doing about ethics in your organization.  Unfortunately, whatever it is probably isn’t enough.

Unethical – It’s a Cultural Problem

Problematically, when an organization develops a culture of unethical behaviour, it becomes very difficult to fix.  From police forces who engage in gender discrimination to banks who create sham accounts then fire whistle-blowers and let management off scott-free, to universities and colleges who funnel taxpayer funds to political parties, there are plenty of examples of organizations that seem to be stuck in cycles of unethical behaviour, and it’s likely an issue of culture.  The question then becomes, how do you shift an unethical corporate culture in a way that won’t bring the company to grinding halt or cost a fortune?

While it won’t fix your organizations unethical culture overnight (but honestly, nothing provides an immediate fix to corporate culture), one of the most direct routes to improving the situation is to implement an online ethics training program.  (Shameless plug: This is what my company does)

These kinds of training programs can be developed inexpensively, repeated frequently (in fact, it’s recommended), and updated easily.  Consider how that compares to the other kinds of training and development you’ve got going on, and it starts to look pretty good. 

Here are some benefits to online ethics training:

  • Low cost to develop: There are a gazillion (that’s a technical term) stories that can be used to contextualize the information, so getting the raw materials to develop from is easy and quick.

  • Easy to deploy: Once the course is built, putting it online is a simple matter if you have an LMS. If you have a rapid development tool, it can be packaged up and simply uploaded, but you can also develop the course right inside most LMS.  If you aren’t using an LMS, shame on you… do you hate your company?

  • Easy to track results: Again, assuming you are using an LMS (see previous point), the results are easy to track. See who has taken the ethics training.  See who struggled with the material and see who didn’t.

  • Consistent messaging: No one gets different information when it’s digital.  Like watching your favorite movie on Blu-Ray, it’s the same experience each and every time for all participants.

  • Easy to run again: Unlike classroom delivery, it doesn’t cost anything to run the course again… and again… and again. Reinforcement is key when attempting to effect culture change, so finding ways to deliver a consistent message repeatedly is a definite win.

  • Accountability: Because an LMS tracks participation and results, staff who violate ethical guidelines cannot later deny knowledge of those guidelines. Of course, they still need to be held accountable, so make sure HR and all levels of management take the training as well.

  • Easy to update: If you want to include more examples, add some multimedia, or tweak some wording to reflect changing policies or legislation, online training is the answer. No booklets to reprint, no binders to update. 

Given these benefits, it makes sense to consider online ethics training for your organization.

Connecting Microlearning to Professional Development

One of the most rapidly evolving spaces in education is microlearning.

While microlearning doesn’t appear to have one formal definition, the concept of what might be described as microlearning has been around as long as humans have been doing work and teaching others to do the same.  Consider that before formal education was around, if you wanted to learn how to do something, you would likely learn from someone who was already doing it.  Of course, for it to be considered “micro”, it would need to be short enough and shallow enough that it could be taught and learned in a brief period of time, but the idea of “small learning for a purpose” is what we’re after. 

Now, if you’re the kind of person who believes that the only thing that matters is the credential and parchment at the end of a formal education, you might as well stop reading now and resign yourself to eternal ignorance about the antiquity of that idea.  I’m not saying that formal education or credentials or parchments are bad, far from it.  Rather, I’m saying that they’re not the only worthwhile kind of learning and that the sooner we recognize the benefits of microlearning, the better off we will be as people, as organizations, and as societies.  Go get your degree and hang that parchment with pride in your office or den… just don’t pretend your learning journey is done or that everything you know of value comes with a credential. Continue reading

Successful LMS Implementation Factors

yound woman at computer and LMS Implementation FactorsSimplicity vs Complexity

There’s something to be said for simplicity when it comes to an LMS. What I mean by that is whatever LMS system is chosen needs to be readily accessible to learners and administrators from a user experience point of view. For instance, just because it’s possible to add the SuperAmazingPianoKitten widget to the interface doesn’t mean you should, especially if it adds unnecessary complexity to the visuals or navigation without a substantial payoff in terms of data, learner engagement or knowledge retention.  A good needs analysis will help avoid this problem in the first place, and ongoing reviews of the system will ensure it stays relevant.

Updates

Updates are a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually evil.  That being said, a badly executed update can leave users and administrators in angry turmoil.  I once saw a very, very expensive LMS at a very large school get a major update in the middle of the day in the middle of the semester.  It changed the interface enough that students and instructors alike had significant challenges finding their way back to their courses.  When asked about the reasoning behind executing the update at such a poorly chosen time, the LMS admin simply pointed to the provider and said “They said it was a minor update and that no one would notice”.  Thus, your choice of LMS and provider need to build their update schedule around your user needs, not vice versa, and it’s important to discuss it with them ahead of time. Continue reading

Three tips for effective interpersonal skills corporate e-learning

Interpersonal skills is one of those things that everyone agrees we need in order to be successful.  Having tons of knowledge and experience is great, but if everyone thinks you’re a jerk and resists working with you, then that knowledge and experience is being wasted.  Interpersonal skills help people work together and form strong relationships at work, which is one of the 12 most important factors for employee engagement according to Gallup.  If you want your business to grow, you and your staff need interpersonal skills.  Still, corporate trainers tend to think that interpersonal skills can only be developed in a face-to-face classroom setting, but that’s just not true.  Here are three tips on how to use e-Learning to build interpersonal skills.

Use real life examples to contextualize theories

Although computers let us go wild with our imaginations, when it comes to interpersonal skills, it’s better to get as close to reality as possible.  Presenting interpersonal theory is great, but only real-world examples will allow the learner to contextualize their understanding of that theory.  For example, there has been some great research done recently on the antecedents of abusive supervisory behaviour (Hu & Liu, 2016) which references social dominance theory and some motivational theories to explain sustained supervisory abusive behaviour towards subordinates in the workplace. However, while the study makes a lot of sense, for learners to truly use it best to improve their interpersonal skills it also needs to be presented in the context of shop-floor / real-world interactions between two individuals: one as an abusive authority and the other as a subordinate.  Learners will relate better to the real world examples of abuse, and so will have a greater opportunity to improve their interpersonal skills.

Branching scenarios for communication styles.

If you aren’t familiar with branching scenarios, the basic idea is that a user is presented with a situation (scenario) and they need to work their way through to a solution by making some decisions.  Each decision is a fork in the road, yielding a different result based on the path chosen.  Branching scenarios allow learners to try out different communication styles to achieve the desired result.  So, if they make a poor choice, they can back-track and try a different kind of approach, learning appropriate communication strategies and developing their interpersonal skills as they go. Continue reading

How to Work Less and Do More

image of relaxed facultyWhen I was faculty at a large college, I learned how to work less and do more.  That may sound trite, but it’s true.  Why should you care what happened in my job?  Well, first there are some alarming statistics about the precarious nature of faculty positions in post-secondary, so if there is a way to make work a little easier I’m pretty sure you owe it to yourself.  Second, finding efficient ways to get more done opens up other opportunities, as my story will illustrate.

Work Less and Do More: The Numbers

Between 2009 and 2013, when I was measuring this, here is what I saw:

  • Learner final grades in my course improved, on average about 18%  
  • Student evaluations of my performance improved about 26%
  • Student retention increased about 9%
  • Time over 40 hours per week (unpaid overtime) decreased by about 75%

Of course, those numbers are based on my measurements of my students in my courses, and my own observations of my work/life balance.  So, there’s not a lot of scientific rigor here but I think the trends are pretty obvious.

Work Less and Do More: The Background

In 2009 my wife had a running joke-that-wasn’t-really-a-joke about my work hours that she would tell friends: I disappeared in September and reappeared briefly around Christmas, then I’d vanish again and reappear in April.  My colleagues were doing the same thing so it seemed perfectly normal, at the time.  In theory, the overtime hours put in between September and April were supposed to balance out with lighter workloads and fewer hours in May and June, but that just didn’t happen, so the extra time went unpaid and unrecognized.  Continue reading