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May 10, 2004

News & Opinion: Book Review - The Seven-Day Weekend

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 3:11 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Imagine you could find a company where you choose how much you get paid. Imagine you can choose when you want to work. Did you answer emails on Sunday? No problem, catch that movie you wanted to see on Monday. Need training? Take the money they have set aside and take the classes you want to take. Need some time off? Take up to three years and they'll have a job for you when you come back. There is such a place. It's called Semco and Ricardo Semler details his company's practices in the book The Seven-Day Weekend.
The entire company is set-up around an few simple ideas - "...let workers follow their interests and their instincts when choosing jobs or projects" and "...[insist] that workers seek personal challenges and satisfaction before trying to meet company goals." Semler says this solves everything. Employee are happy. Employees are doing things they like to do. If they are unhappy, let them try something else. For Auro Alves, this has meant a rise through the ranks from truck driver to sales manager. For Roberval Couto, it meant that he turning down numerous opportunities and remaining a messenger for 35 years, something he loves.
Semler says "employees that put themselves first will be motivated to peform". He says that eliminates the need to worry about when and where someone is working. It also eliminates the need to motivate (i.e. pressure) employees to do their jobs.
The book is written in a stream of consciousness fashion which leaves you wondering where Semler is going to go next. For me, it worked OK. I originally was just going to post the Table of Contents, but got sucked in after reading the first ten pages. I think it is worth the read to see all of the implications for an organization when truly "Put Employees First".