You may have recently read in the news that Finland’s Prime Minister is considering a four-day workweek, with six-hour workdays for citizens. This idea is not entirely new. A number of countries and companies have experimented with tipping the work-life balance to give employees more time with friends, family, and personal endeavors.
Microsoft Japan, for example, ran a trial in August 2019 – and saw great success. A number of employees were given Fridays off, without any change to their salary or vacation days. The result was a 40% increase in productivity, and employee satisfaction was through the roof.
The Underlying Issue
First off, it is important to address the issue of the modern mentality that “success,” “productivity,” or even “happiness” is positively correlated with the amount of time that we spend on the job. This can actually encourage individuals to be less efficient, as they will take more time to do something that could be accomplished much faster. This mindset can also encourage individuals to continue to work past the point of productivity.
For this reason, most of the American workforce (as well as other countries) is incredibly overworked, which can have devastating side effects, such as:
- Increased risk of burnout
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Physical health issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Problems sleeping, eating
Advantages of Shorter Workweeks, Reduced Hours
There are a number of studies that have looked at the effects of allowing employees to work four ten-hour days, as well as reducing hours over the week as a whole. Both scenarios tend to see wide-ranging benefits.
For starters, there is a rise in productivity. And the reasoning for this is simple: Employees need to be more efficient with their time. This forces individuals to prioritize and make better decisions.
Additionally, when employees have more time to themselves – either in the mornings, evenings or with a three-day weekend – it improves overall happiness levels. Stress is reduced because there is more time to accomplish personal items, and there is also the opportunity to do things that bring them joy, such as time with loved ones or on creative projects. Employees come to work feeling refreshed and clear-headed, which only further improves productivity and decision making.
Giving employees more flexible scheduling has also been shown to increase retention rates and can be a huge draw for qualified candidates. Not only have many companies seen an improvement in company morale, but also in employee relations and the company’s overall reputation.
A Lesser Known Benefit
Finally, decreased workweeks can save both the employer and employees money. So long as the structure change is enforced throughout the company, it means that fewer utilities will be used on site. Furthermore, it decreases transportation costs for employees, as well as potentially childcare, among other things.
Just a few more reasons to consider whether this structure could work well for you!