Just for Fun

3 lessons from ‘Groundhog Day’ to help you manage your business

Dorothy Chong | January 31, 2020
This year, Harold Ramis’s “Groundhog Day” turns 27 years young. In the almost three decades since its release, the movie has garnered a dedicated following. It’s even transcended genres. Entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, and religious leaders have shared their takeaways on the experience of protagonist Phil Connor, played by Bill Murray. If you’re looking to spark some business mojo for the new year, here are three causes we found ourselves rallying behind when we revisited the feel-good, must-watch classic. 

1. Words are cheap when they don’t align with action or intent 

2020 started with a significant change to the overtime rule for businesses. Effective January 1, more than a million American workers became eligible for overtime pay. Before the final ruling, TSheets by QuickBooks commissioned the state of time tracking survey. Among other things, the survey sought to learn where employers and employees stood on the overtime proposal. 61% of employers supported the then-proposed, now passed rule, suggesting they’re most likely already aligned with the law and best practices. But a quick comparison of survey responses between employers and employees revealed concerning gaps. 

Among employers surveyed

Among employees surveyed

  • 61% support the new overtime rule.
  • 70% support a minimum wage increase.
  • 93% let employees take breaks.
  • 10% don’t get overtime pay, though they’re eligible. 
  • 21% are never paid for hours worked outside their schedules.
  • 34% have breaks deducted from paychecks automatically.
In the movie, Phil’s initial insincere flattery and scheming to win over Rita, his producer, was exposed and rejected because his words sounded hollow. His motives were unscrupulous, his actions rehearsed. And that’s how things remained for a while.   

2. Serving ‘me, myself, and I’ never ends well 

At the start of his time loop, Phil’s decision to indulge in all pleasures imaginable is understandable, if not acceptable. But a life without consequences loses its appeal after a while. It would take him 34 years to learn his lessons before he made things right by finding humility and putting others before himself. Wage theft and time theft are perennial, billion-dollar issues in the U.S. One would think, with updated reports and figures year after year, both employers and employees would have wised up to doing the right thing. Yet 32% of employers in the survey admit to being involved in an overtime dispute. Of these, 9% said it led to prosecution. On the other side of the coin, 39% of employees confess to adding between 5 and 15 minutes to their timesheets. TSheets has found the combined annual cost of wage and time thefts to be at least $33 billion, a great loss for all parties involved.   

3. Learn from mistakes or risk repeating them

From influencing others positively to focusing on what’s important, Phil had to unlearn and relearn during his time in the loop. To be fair, he did start to change his ways for the better by Day 4,000, or Year 11. But as with everything, change takes time, which is all the more reason to get things right from the get-go. When it comes to business, we know wage and hour lawsuits increased 417% between 1997 and 2017. We also know that over 70% of the money recovered by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division was for labor infractions that affected some 3 million workers. We even know which industries are most at-risk for labor disputes. In short, instead of learning from your own mistakes or risk repeating them, you can learn from someone else’s.

Change starts with YOU

There are many inherent and implicit lessons in “Groundhog Day.” It’s one of the great joys of a great movie—a new interpretation awaits each visit. Ultimately, “Groundhog Day” is a lesson on doing what’s right from the start because it takes time. And it starts with you. It may be a one-take lesson. And it may require a few tries. But let’s hope it’s not one you have to learn over and over and over and over again.  
A little about Dorothy Chong

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