Millennium Magazine_10th Ed

In the United States, working upwards of 55 hours per week can be seen as a point of pride. Working long hours and ensuring that you are always busy are attitudes that dominate many workplaces in America. To this end, working extra hours is often correlated with higher productivity and higher profits. However, there are several other countries with strong economies, such as Germany and France, that do well in working fewer hours than Americans. This bears the question: What if workers are more productive, happier and healthier when they work fewer hours, have more time off and have more flexible work schedules? This change in hours could not only benefit employees, but employers, as well. Workers will likely be less stressed, have a better work-life balance and be more productive in the hours they do work. Having sick and stressed workers is never good. Working more than 55 hours per week can increase chances of workers developing anxiety, depression, sleeping issues, excessive alcohol consumption and heart disease, among other medical problems. Working too many hours per week can also leave workers with little time to properly take care of their health, which can affect their workplace performance. However, working fewer hours for the same pay (for example, working a fourday instead of five-day week) can help workers maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working a shorter number of hours may allow employees to destress and remain healthy. Furthermore, workers can get more sleep, spend more time with their families, have time to take care of themselves and have fun. Additionally, workers who can properly take care of themselves and disconnect from workplace stress also tend to take fewer sick days. Research suggests that individuals are typically only productive for about three hours per day, with the rest of the time spent doing non-work-related activities such as reading the news, talking to co-workers or surfing the internet. However, working fewer hours encourages workers to get work done more efficiently while maintaining productivity. Having extra personal time at the end of the day or an extra day on the weekend can keep workers motivated. When employees are not demotivated, they tend to be happier and more productive. Likewise, giving workers more time off with the same amount of pay can also increase their spending potential. They will have time and money to spend on goods and services, such as entertainment and food, that they might not have otherwise had time for. If they have disposable income and more time to spare, they are more likely to spend their money and participate more in the economy. A company that can tangibly show that it values its employees’ well-being is also a company that can retain good employees. If workers enjoy their jobs and feel valued by their employers, they are also more likely to feel a sense of loyalty, remain in those jobs longer and be more productive employees. Adversely, individuals who are overworked and underpaid are more likely to feel like their work is not valued. Therefore, they work less efficiently and may leave when better opportunities arise. A shorter work week can signal to employees that their employer values their time and effort, as well as understands that a healthy work-life balance is of growing importance. In turn, this can increase employee loyalty, productivity and workplace happiness and help to reduce stress. The idea of working fewer hours for the same pay has already been successfully implemented in businesses around the world. Happy and healthy employees are good for business and the economy.