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Make Those Minutes Count

Posted by on February 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

RENT is one of the longest running Broadway musicals in history (1996-2008). Its success, at least in part, was the result of a wonderful collection of memorable songs. First among them is the song “Seasons of Love,” written and composed by Jonathan Larson.

“Seasons of Love” starts with the monotonous recitation of a long number string: “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” which typically is not the makings for a Tony Award-winning song. Yet, this number has meaning as the song goes on to ask, “How do we measure, measure a year?”

That’s an important question posed in the RENT musical; and, it’s an important question for every business.

Today’s businesses spend most of their time thinking about time. They live quarter to quarter, particularly the publicly traded companies which have to expose their financial laundry four times a year. And they obsess over metrics, which are driven by varying time increments, e.g., monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

However, companies generally don’t obsess enough over how their employees actually use their time.

Most companies pay their employees for 40 hours-a-week of work, 52 weeks a year. If you set aside the two weeks for vacation, that comes to a nice round 2,000 hours a year that the average employee is paid to be “on the clock.” If you take it a step further and put it in RENT terms, it translates into 120,000 minutes a year for the average employee.

That’s a lot of minutes. Of course, the actual number of minutes a year that an employee works is much smaller. If you consider the average eight-hour day for an employee, you would need to back out the minutes for unproductive time, such as going to the restroom, chatting in the hallway, and taking numerous breaks throughout the day.

Then there’s the time an employee might be sitting at the computer checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or browsing on or Ebay.

So when it’s all said and done, the actual amount of available time each day – and each year – that remains for the average employee to contribute to the company’s bottom line is relatively small. As a result, it’s important that the employer do everything it can to ensure that each employee is making the most out of those few remaining minutes.

In sum, incent your employees in smart ways, cultivate and grow their talents, applaud their successes, and create a culture that makes every minute count. If so, I predict you’ll love the seasons that will follow.