One of the newest tendencies in HR practice is shortening the work day, which is seeing increasing adoption every year. While some businesses can’t allow cutting back, due to the amount of work, others are applying six-hour work shifts or flexible schedules as an alternative solution. Sweden has become the pathfinder for this practice, introducing the six-hour day to some of its companies, while others are curious about end result.
So, why is this practice gaining support?
Employees feel better
Art is hard; work is hard; life is hard – no secrets there. So, why don’t we try to ease one of those points and hope that it benefits the rest? Shorter shifts allow employees good sleep, time for the gym and to just feel better.
They also allow stability in the psychological condition of your employee. The amount of stress grows exponentially during longer shifts, and it can result in workspace conflicts. Of course, you’d prefer to avoid that at any cost, wouldn’t you? Shorter days allow employees to stand with responsibility and new strength every new day.
The first effect noticed in Sweden after introducing the six-hour day was stability in performance. Many entrepreneurs who changed their shifts noticed that performance data didn’t fall as dramatically as one would expect. In fact, it was quite the opposite: Performance stays the same for six-hour shifts as for eight-hour shifts.
This was achieved with some sacrifices, though: Employees were asked to reduce the time they spent on social networks, and many meetings and manager–employee briefings were abolished.
Nevertheless, performance was the same. The optimization performed by employers was highly effective.
It helps retention
The shorter work day is a nice perk for candidates searching for a job. It’s very attractive for current employees, too; only a small number of employees have been brave enough to quit a job with such a perk.
Many entrepreneurs might find this step attractive if they noticed how their employees work. According to research, many employees get bored and tired during longer shifts; they slow down, they make mistakes and they fail to meet expectations set by managers. After the introduction of shorter days, many employees enjoyed their work more and performance increased (or, at least, did not decrease).
It helps employees to focus
Of course, working for eight hours isn’t the same as working for six hours. That’s obvious. But it’s not as obvious that working for six hours might produce the same amount of work as working for eight hours. Why?
Distraction is the key here. Employees working for six hours are less likely to lose focus, since they have the same number of tasks but less time to finish them.
Procrastination won’t help you to raise the productivity bar, of course. The urge you sometimes can’t resist – the Internet – is full of cat videos, and they won’t watch themselves, you know! Procrastination comes mostly in the afternoon between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. So, how can a shorter day possibly help to fight procrastination?
It actually can. If you “push” the end of the shift by, let’s say, 4 p.m., your employees won’t have time to grow tired of work; they can focus on their tasks, try to finish all their work and go home.
Time is money, but time is more valuable
A better approach to work–life balance is one of the headaches for the twenty-first century, especially for millennials. People prefer to spend time with their families and invest in hobbies – they do what they find interesting. So, why don’t you fuse those two needs – the same salary for fewer working hours. No employee would refuse.
The issue of time spent at work has been on the agenda for years, and manipulating this field is a tough puzzle to solve. The idea of “working less, but paying the same” is not new at all, but the example of Sweden proves that this solution works. Should you adopt it in your company? It’s entirely up to you.