February 8, 2023
USA: Survey shows that 80% of workers prefer 4 days a week

USA: Survey shows that 80% of workers prefer 4 days a week

An important lesson is increasingly clear from the event in the United States known as the “Big Dismissal”: it is time to cut back on the days of the work week.

U.S. workers leave in record numbers – 4.3 million in August and 4.4 million in September. Despite the increase in salaries and incentives, there is a problem in hiring managers in all industries.

But new research supports a more radical but more unusual solution: a four-day work week.

Researchers at the financial institution Jefferies have asked young Americans (aged 22 to 35) who have recently quit their jobs what their former employers would have done.

Thirty-two percent said they would stay if they were offered a job four days a week. This is the second most common response, with 43% shortly after relying on cash.

The study also found that 80% of respondents support a four-day work week. For the remaining 20%: only 3% said they were against the short week and 17% said they were “neutral”. Among undergraduate workers, “feeling tired” is the # 1 reason they leave.

Growing support

The idea of ​​a four-day week was not new, but the epidemic and the extra work that came with it excited lawyers.

In the summer, California Congressman Mark Tacano introduced the Fair Labor Standards Amendment Act of 1938 – which encodes the 40-hour model we now live in – reducing the standard working week to 32 hours.

In an article last month, Tacano cited the epidemic-driven upsurge in workplace regulations compared to the catastrophic socio-economic changes of the 1930s.

“Globally and nationally, I think we are in a similar place right now,” Tacano said. “The rules are flipped and questioned. “People don’t want to go back to the old days. It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. But it will happen faster than people expect.

The 40-hour work week was a hard-won struggle by labor activists in the early 20th century. It is easy to see the parallel with today’s job market, as workers become more skilled and union efforts grow.

There were many experiments to support the idea. A study frequently cited in Iceland in which workers reduced their time without reducing wages was hailed as a huge success. The researchers found that worker well-being increased dramatically on several indicators, such as perceived stress and fatigue.

When Microsoft tried a shorter work week in Japan in 2019, productivity increased by almost 40%.

Elephant Ventures, a software and data engineering company, began testing a four-day work week in August 2020 to help prevent staff fatigue during disasters.

Significantly, Elephant Ventures reduced its working week to four 10-hour days, but as the three-day weekend was well received, the company changed permanently.

Why does it take so long?

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that working hours would decrease over time and by 2030 we would all be working 15 hours a week. Sign up on Mondays and Tuesdays and get ready for a five-day weekend. In contrast, the working day has only increased, especially among the paid.

So what happens?

Experts offered a number of explanations – large companies are reluctant to change, especially as change affects their bottom line. While productivity is stable, it is hard to imagine managers rushing to pay workers the same amount of money for less work.

“I do not see the future in four days a week because it does not help most employers,” said Peter Cappelli, managing professor at Warden School. While it makes sense in areas like nursing, it is important for the same person to take care of more time each day, he says, with little or no benefit in trying to accommodate 10 hour shifts from the traditional 9am to 5am.

There are also cultural foundations, as economist Ben Hannigat argues. Before the beginning of the 20th century, Honeygat told Atlantic in June that “there was a rule for work and wealth – a rich and complete human life.”

But what happened was that the work itself became part of the identity of the people like never before. And, of course, there is a simple recession. It is difficult for workers to imagine a different schedule than they grew up with.

Contributed by Kathryn Gate of CNN Business.

* Translated text. To read the original, Click here.

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