They’re really keen to find out in Sweden.
They explored the issue in the country’s most northerly town, Kiruna. Here some 250 staff worked a six hour shift for 16 years (now that’s a long experiment!) until the trial was abandoned after a review decided that there had been no perceptible impact on workers’ health.
Then they had another go in a hospital department in Stockholm. This had to be abandoned because of the levels of resentment in other departments.
And another similar experiment with childcare workers was halted because costs started to rise.
Undeterred, staff in one government department in Sweden are to work six-hour days to see if their levels of happiness are higher than colleagues on a ‘control’ group still working the standard seven-hour day. The hope is that staff on shorter days will have lower sick absence levels and have better physical and mental health.
Now I am not sure they’re going to get the benefits they hope for with this experiment. Some of the issues that befell previous attempts like colleague resentment might happen again. And workers might find it difficult to achieve in six hours what they used to in seven.
In my heart of hearts, though, I hope it’s a success. I have touched many times on the work:life balance issue in this blog… and would welcome any evidence that fewer working hours is progress.
Tags: 16 years abandoned better physical and mental health colleagues control group departments everywhere evidence experiment fewer working hours is progress hope how long leaders levels of happiness long experiment lower sick absence levels no perceptible impact resentment shorter days six hour shift standard seven hour day success sweden trial work work each day work life balance workers health