The Business Leaders and Managers, Smokers and Non-smokers

published in: Leader

08 Oct
2010

In every company I worked for, there were smokers and non-smokers.  Repeatedly we were getting to a situation in which smokers were pointed as one of the problems hampering department higher productivity and teamwork, due to frequent cigarettes breaks (3-6 times, 5-15 min each).  These breaks affect non-smokers in two ways:

  • During "cigarette” breaks, non-smokers were serving all telephone calls and performed all urgent tasks that resulted from these calls.
  • The non-smokers felt they work more and took position "We are not fools ... we can become smokers, in order to have more breaks and work less..."
 
Leaders,managers, smokers, non-smokersSmokers argued that smoking calmed them down and after a cigarette they would work much more effectively, which is in the best interest of the company (smokers did not trusted studies proving that nicotine did not soothes nervous tension, but on the contrary – it increased nervousness).
 
As a matter of fact, both smokers and non-smokers were capable and valuable employees.
 
Being a manager (not a business leader - for differences click here) I pressed smokers for additional 30 minutes working time, to compensate the time spent on cigarettes.  Naturally, they did not accept it warmly.  Some of them increased the duration of cigarette breaks, others felt offended.  Non-smokers were left alone for longer periods.  As a whole, I did not achieve my goal - not to waste working time on cigarette breaks.
 
Recently, during a business consultation, I came across a company in which the manager, as a true business leader, had solved the same case in a very elegant way. Each position had a base startup salary.  For all new employees, he reduced the base salary by X euro.  If the employee declared that he would not smoke throughout the work day the leader gave him premium - the X euro. If eventually he starts smoking he would lose the premium.  At the annual salary increase time the business leader would apply just the same technique on all payroll employees.  Finally, the smokers had incentives not to smoke during the work day.  This approach did not cost any additional money to the company. Several employees even quitted smoking.
 
The ways and means we use in everyday life are often more important than the final goal - pay attention to the details and the approach!

 

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