Should a 4-day Workweek Become Industry Standard?
Is working less for the same pay feasible and beneficial to all?
A three day weekend is like two presents wrapped up into one. Not only do you get an extra day to brunch (mimosa anyone?) or spend additional time in the sun with your family (I live in Florida so the weather in February is pretty perfect) BUT you also get a shorter work week *loud cheering in the background*. And as we settled into that last night prior to returning to work, we asked ourselves: why can’t every week be a 4-day-work-week?
The benefits of working a shorter week include more productivity in the workplace, higher employee satisfaction and moral, less sick leave, and a better work/life balance. The implementation could take the form of working one day less a week or cutting down the hours of the work day. A study conducted in Sweden sought to investigate the effects of shortening the standard eight-hour-day to six hours (note: they did not cut an employee's pay). Nurses (who often work 12 hour shifts in the US) employed at an nursing home were selected for the study and not only did their energy levels increase but so did their job performance, their relationships with their families, and their overall health. They experienced far less stress since they had more time to spend with their children, engage in physical activities and hobbies, which improved their quality of life significantly.
But this initiative of less work for the same pay has some people criticizing the idea (mostly due to the extra financial strain on businesses). Some businesses would have to hire additional staff in order to have sufficient shift coverage and, in the area of sales and restaurants with hourly-paid workers, it can be hard for employees to make the same salary as previously. Additionally, employers will still want the work to get done, which means workers might feel added pressure and be even more stressed to make their deadlines in a shorter amount of time.
Honestly, after looking into several articles and studies on this idea, I see that a successful implementation of reduced hours really depends on the business. I used to work at a higher education institution, which implemented departemental summer hours. Once classes were done for the spring and the senior class had walked across the stage, our days would shrink by an hour (30 minutes in the morning and 30 min at the end). And I can tell you it was amazing and made such a difference! I did feel more productive and less likely to stray away from my tasks when our days were shorter. However, I do believe that the reason we all looked forward to those shorter days and were more productive was because they only happened certain times of the year. Having our hours change once a year made our routine seem less constant and monotonous, which is often the case when you work in an office/administrative environment. So, if all of our workdays got shortened by an hour, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much as we did and it would become the new “normal.”
At the end of the day, this study clearly shows that if an employee has more energy and time to spend outside of work with family or with their hobbies, they are overall more satisfied with their life quality, which will spill over into their workplace. So, if you find yourself in a job that heightens your stress levels and requires a lot out of you, make sure to take some time everyday (even if it is just 10 minutes) doing something that fulfills you.
If you what some stress relieving techniques, take a look at THIS blog post I wrote back in December about easy steps to a stress free holiday season (applicable for anytime of the year)
I hope you enjoyed this lastes GS blog post! I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject bellow! Does your workplace offer reduced hours?