Mind the Product Conference 2014

Did you know that about 200 years ago, around the time of the industrial revolution, employers started seeing a trend of mass absenteeism, which affects us to this day? More and more people were opting to spend their ‘day of rest’, the Sunday, at the pub instead of the church. This, in turn, meant that increasing numbers were not turning up at work on Monday morning. Eventually, as a result, employers decided to give workers an additional day off each week. It was the beginning of a 5-day working week and a 2-day weekend.

This was how Dave Wascha opened his talk in Mind the Product conference 2014 last Friday. He used the story to illustrate how randomly some of our conventions are created. Our 5-day working week isn’t the result of extensive studies to determine the optimum ratio of work to rest for productivity. We follow the 5-day week because workers got into the habit of getting drunk on Sundays. And the reason why we have a 7-day week to begin with is another story altogether.

Dave Wascha went on to talk about product development and common pitfalls of the product manager. One common mistake is to do things a certain way “because we’ve always done it this way”. The same is true in so much more than just product development, of course. People are slow to change their habits and culture change is a challenge. Engage takes on that challenge and we try to help companies change their habits or at least question them, when it comes to absence management. Could you be doing this better? Is there an easier way to track and manage your staff absence (or holidays)?

Who knew just how influential absenteeism could be? It’s always fun to find out that what we are dealing with has the power to change the world!