As the third international ‘Work a Bit Harder’ week draws to a conclusion, celebrations are being marked all over the world as this tribute to the work ethic continues to gain momentum and popularity.
In Bangladesh, children at the Dhaka-based factory of a popular active-wear manufacturer dedicated an extra shift without pay to their employers, and in India all cricket fixtures were put on hold so workers could spend an extra two hours working without the distractions of sport and leisure.
Second- and third-year associates at popular New York law firm Fitzgerald, Winthrop, McCloy and Smyth won the week’s innovation award with their ‘168 club’ competition – the race to complete 168 billable hours in a single work week.
Brainchild of New York businessman Robert Miller, the ‘Work a Bit Harder’ week concept was founded five years ago following the tragic passing of Miller’s father Paul, at the age of 58. Miller Snr died in hospital after complications from his second ‘routine’ quad-bypass, surrounded by his three ex-wives and eight children. Robert recalls the moment with a hint of sadness: “His life was such an inspiration to us all. After bringing two successful businesses to IPO and amassing a fortune estimated at $8 billion, he was taken from us too early. His final words – “If only I’d spent more time at work” – have inspired me to establish the Work a Bit Harder Foundation in his memory”.
The Foundation’s mission – promoting strong work ethics and the importance of spending that extra time at work – quickly took root in the New York area, and quickly grew into an international movement formally supported by the UN and recognized by governments all over the world.
Radio stations around the world joined in solidarity by removing Harry Chapin’s classic Cat’s in the Cradle from their playlists out of respect to hard workers.
The celebrations even reached as far as Melbourne, Australia, where despite the traditional December slowdown filled with end-of-year parties as the summer approached, business owners and workers alike refused to take it easy. Early riser Ron said: “Going into the office an hour early every day this week is the least I can do, especially as I’m taking a couple of days off during the summer”.
Sales of the signature campaign orange wristbands with this year’s slogan “work harder; live better” are up 15% on last year. The distributor of the wristbands was pleased, yet remained unsatisfied: “I know in my heart of hearts that if I’d worked a little harder, we could’ve made our 20% growth target”, he said.