Social Factors

Social factors are as important as money.

All too often today we hear that work and money are the only things that matter, and that social factors are unimportant.  The flaw in this line of thinking lies in the fact that the whole idea of working and generating a strong economy is to improve quality of life, as greater disposable income can be put to greater use.

Yet many social factors influence quality of life more directly than ownership of money does, particularly in comparitively affluent societies.  Recreation enables people to enjoy themselves and feel happier, and social interactions and asthetics can make people feel happier.  All of these factors also contribute positively to human health.  Happier people also tend to be more productive in the workplace.

Thus we need to measure the importance of relative factors in terms of their contribution to quality of life instead of being constrained by dogma like "the economy comes before recreation so recreation shouldn't come into it".

 

While maintaining a standard 35-38 hour workweek, we should move emphasis towards monitoring employees for their level of performance rather than on how many hours they spend on their work.

Traditionally productivity is measured as a function of number of hours worked, but this practice ignores two areas of inefficiency- one being people working inefficiently, and another being people doing work that isn't productive.  There is always work that can be done, but there is a limit to how much productive work that can be done.  The result is that people end up having to work longer hours than are necessary in order to achieve a certain level of productivity, and associated waste of time and in some cases money.

Wherever possible, employees should be monitored through performance targets (consistent with an approximate number of hours' worth of work) rather than the precise number of hours that they spend in the office.  Performance-related pay can be introduced, such as salary bonus systems, or replacement of pay by the hour by pay-per-assignment.

This will also make the number of weekly hours worked flexible in both directions.  Nowadays they tend to be flexible only in the up direction, i.e. people who are contracted to work 37 hours can work 42 hours in a week but can rarely work 32 hours, even if they have worked up a considerable amount of flexi-time or overtime.  It will also make working from home easier to facilitate.  It will encourage people to work smart as it means they might get performance bonuses and/or a bit of extra time off, while discouraging inefficient working for the inverse of those reasons.

Of course this is not always possible, as some jobs do physically require people to be around certain premises during certain hours, in which case policing via number of hours worked is generally a necessary evil.  Even in those cases, though, it is often possible to smuggle in some kind of performance-related pay.

 

Childcare facilities should be improved and it should be made easier both for families to arrange for one parent to take time out of a career to raise the children, and for two parents to job/child share.

In a significant minority of families the children are neglected by their parents because the parents both work long hours and get very little time with their children.  It is a minority- working mothers do not deserve the flak they get from various quarters and most households with two working parents produce reasonably brought-up children- but it is too large a minority to ignore.

We need employers to be encouraged to offer more scope for parents of young children to take up part-time posts with working patterns that are tailored to the children's needs.  Parents also need to be offered more scope to take time out of their careers and be able to go back to them after a few years of full-time parenthood.   Maternity and paternity leave should be maintained.

I do not want to see mothers pressured into staying at home and raising children as it will encourage the old double standards associated with sex discrimination to return, plus some parents do not find the "one parent works, the other stays at home" arrangement to be the best as the working parent can feel pressured into taking an unpleasant job just because it's high paid, and the stay-at-home parent can feel trapped.  Unhappy parents are unlikely to produce well brought up children regardless of how much time they spend with them.

 

We need to encourage more of a community spirit and a "love others as yourself" mentality.

The breakdown of the family is one of the bugbears of modern society.  Some people are brought up in dysfunctional family backgrounds and never get stable relationships with close blood relations, notably parents.  There are rarely organised get-togethers in many cases such that people rarely see their kids, partners, grandparents etc.
 
However, one positive aspect of the decline in family values is the breakdown of the "friendship is unimportant" and "you can't trust anyone but your family" mentalities.  In the early to mid 20th century, friendships in the UK were suppressed, and in the case of male-female friendships, roundly condemned.    Under traditional family values, there are big double standards between how "family" and "friends" were viewed- essentially discrimination based on blood ties.  If a conflict arises that involves a friend, it is usual to assume the worst about the friend and "move on" by "cutting them out of your life", which is analogous to locking a suspect up without trial and throwing away the key.  This kind of nonsense does not apply to family because "they're different".
 
Also, I am dead against a return to the family values that encourage sex discrimination.
 
There is no reason why friendships should not be given the degree of respect and encouragement as family relationships, or why family members should get away with being abusive just because they're "family".  After all, it is probable that most, if not all, of us are related to each other anyway, so the distinction based on blood ties is arbitrary.  So what we need, rather than "family values", is to encourage people to be more sociable in general and assign a higher degree of importance to relationships- including families and friends.