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Here’s Why Elon Musk Feels Like He Has to Work a 120-Hour Week

It boils down to friction.

Photo Credit: FGorgun/Getty Images. 

“I want to work 120 hours a week and sleep in my office!”

Well, that’s certainly one way to innovate. I am a huge Elon Musk fan so I’m hoping he reboots and gets back to a productive, non-destructive work schedule. Hopefully, he will allow his employees to rally, re-load, and help re-build him.

Friction is the resistance to innovation. It slows the ability for companies to adapt and develop new ideas. Friction frustrates your best employees and causes them to update their LinkedIn profiles. Friction can both be eliminated at the top, as well as created at the top. It’s all about the environment that leaders create. Dictionaries define friction as a noun, “conflict or animosity caused by a clash of wills, temperaments, or opinions,” but when it comes to organizations, it isn’t just a noun. Friction is people. It lives and breathes. I can see why Elon Musk feels the need to carry the weight of his businesses on his shoulders. Based on my conversations with other leading CEOs, many of them have faced or are facing friction in their businesses that stand in the way of the mission and their ultimate success.

We at Great Place to Work survey about 5 million friction creators and eliminators each year, so we know a lot about how friction affects a company’s ability to innovate. In fact, we just published a study called Innovation By All (recently profiled on the Wall Street Journal’s management page in Why Innovation Is a Team Sport) that shows how companies can measure their innovation velocity by focusing on employee experience.

I have good news and bad news. Steph Curry always wants the good news first so I will use The Champion’s preference. The good news is that 38% of the employed U.S. population works for companies where for every 11 workers who love innovating and supporting the innovations of others, there are two who say they don’t have the ability to innovate because they don’t fully trust their leaders or co-workers. The bad news is that 62% of working people are in a culture where for every 3 to 5 people who say they have the ability to innovate, there are two people who say they don’t have the opportunity. Unfortunately, we have lots of data about this kind of friction.

While we are globally known for our algorithm that determines what makes a Great Place to Work For All, we have a lot more data on companies that are not Great Places to Work for Any. While publishing a list of the 100 worst places to work would be innovative, not all innovations are market winners. At these companies, even the executive scores aren’t good.

I know you think about your company all of the time, just like I do. My hope for all of us is that the 120-hour work week is a rarity and not the norm. Check out the links below to help you get the information you need to create an organization fueled by innovation by all, not just a few.

Thanks for reading. We wish you less friction and many restful nights of sleep at home.

Michael C. Bush
Global CEO, Great Place to Work 

Innovation By All 

Sign up for the Innovation By All webinar

Companies That Care 2018

Attend the 2019 GPTW4ALL Summit

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