An A – Z of social entrepreneurship: W – Z

As Global Entrepreneurship Week and this A-Z come to an end, the last four letters of the alphabet consider ways we can be kinder to ourselves. Investing in the people running social ventures is every bit as important as any capital expenditure.

 W – Working week

The UK is said to have one of the longest working weeks in Europe. Despite trends in part-time employment (or should that be under-employment?), zero-hours contracts and a perceived threat to UK jobs from migrant workers, I still think there’s a case for a three day weekend.

Workers would choose a Friday or Monday as their extra day – effectively extending the weekend nationally to four days with an associated economic boost for the leisure industry. Absenteeism and days lost through ill health could well go down and job satisfaction and productivity up. And if pay was for job done, rather than hours worked, it needn’t mean an automatic 20% reduction in wage levels.

For a more reasoned case for a shorter working week see www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/21-hours

X – x x x

The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be. Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” Wilfred Peterson

A great number of us in the social economy so enjoy our (paid) work we would possibly do it unpaid if we could afford to. Certainly In my case the distinction between paid and unpaid work is becoming increasingly blurred.

But do you love yourself as well as your work?

My experience of working in the not-for-private-profit sector for 35 years is that we are better at caring for others than for ourselves. Our commitment to the cause often means we work ridiculously long hours for very little financial reward. Even where that’s our choice it can also be a selfish one; burn-out benefits no one – the sector loses experience and expertise and, at worst, it may put an additional burden on the NHS.

Y – Yes

I have a poster on my cellar wall at home – it reads ‘say yes more than no’. It’s bold, simple and effective (see it at  http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2010/08/say-yes-more-than-no) It’s a wonderfully positive approach to life that I try to follow (and people who know me well can manipulate me to say ‘yes’ when they want my help…)

But, like being over-passionate about a cause, not knowing when or how to ‘say no’ can also be self-defeating. It feels great to feel valued, wanted and needed, but learning to say no (without feeling guilty or causing offence) is probably one of the most useful skills you can acquire early in your career to sustain yourself.

Z – Zzzzz…sleep, rest and relaxation

When you’ve said ‘yes’ too often, and worked longer hours than is good for you or your productivity, you need to know how to re-charge your batteries. Not easy when you’re excited by what you’re doing, but rest and relaxation is an essential part of most people’s 24-hour day.

In 2007, a hotel chain put up hammocks in their UK headquarters – allowing staff to take short naps as necessary. Whether the company still encourages siestas is not reported.

For those with less enlightened employers here are 20 excuses if you’re found napping at your desk http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/managing-infosec/best-excuses-if-you-get-caught-sleeping-in-your-cubicle-17776

A bonus – wise words from the wonderful Nicholas Bate at Strategic Edge…                           Pause and consider 101 http://nicholasbate.typepad.com/files/pause-consider-101-pdf-v1.pdf

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