Why your company should adopt the 30-hour workweek — let’s cut the excuses
It has been proven that a 30-hour workweek, or a six-hour workday, not only matches or even increases productivity within the workforce, but also contributes to better physical and emotional wellbeing as well as a healthier social life in workers (Olsson, 1999; Vorontsov & Belyaeva, 2019; Wolfsberger & Rübelmann, 2017; Åkerstedt et al., 2001).
The generation that worked forty hours a week, five days a week on top of commuting, is now experiencing burnout. According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), every fifth person in Finland has experienced burnout, and in 2018 the government paid 4,7 million euros per day in sickness allowances for mental health disorders. In a survey of 30,000 European adults, released in June of this year, Statista reports that a whopping 66% of Polish people have been on the verge or experienced burnout in 2021, taking the lead in this alarming report. Additionally, Gallup reports that 21% of the older generation and up to 28% of millennials in the U.S. have experienced burnout. Lastly, Marchand et al. (2018) found that over 55-year-olds experienced more burnout compared to younger age groups: the generation that has been working the longest.
Knowing all of this, I would say that it is high time that we embrace the shorter workweek. Seeing that not only does it increase productivity, but it drastically improves the wellbeing of employees, too, I can’t see a reason why it could not be implemented on a wider scale. I sincerely hope that the only reason for sticking to the grating 40-hour workweek isn’t the age-old “This is the way it has always been done”, because funnily enough, the eight-hour workday originates in the 19th century and was designed for factory workers of that time, not for knowledge workers who can only get their job done by sitting in front of a screen the whole day.
The new generation
I have had many jobs in my twenty four years of life. I started ten years ago as part of my school’s on-the-job learning program. I was a library assistant for two weeks. Since then I’ve worked as a daycare assistant, office help, quality controller, librarian again, cleaning lady, lunch lady, sold ice cream for a summer, worked two summers as a cashier, spent a few months as a postal worker, and most recently interned at an ad agency.
Some of these jobs were fun, some not so much, but almost all of them were connected by one thing: the 40-hour workweek. Nearly all of these jobs were shift work, meaning that weekly hours varied, making it hard to pin down the average hours I worked at each job every week. This led me to have very limited experience in the actual eight-hour, five-day workweek.
During university, I was worried how the transition from fairly unscheduled student life to that of the 9-to-5 of a knowledge worker would go. Would I be too tired to work in the morning? Would I have any time for hobbies? What if I had to visit a place that was only open during office hours when I would be stuck in front of my own computer somewhere? I noticed that the students around me were increasingly unenthusiastic about spending the next forty years of their life gathering dust in an office, and indeed, as bright and ambitious as they were, surely there had to be a way they could put their talent and knowledge to good use while also living their life to the fullest outside of work.
Introducing the four-day workweek
When I was offered my position at Kasvu, it was mentioned that they only work four days a week. Of course this was an attractive addition to what they had to offer, but it was by no means the pivotal piece of information that made me choose to work here. However, having been here for over two months now, I have to admit that the 30-hour workweek has done more for me than I thought it ever could. I find that I have ample time to exercise, become immersed in my hobbies, spend time with my friends and family, and take care of any and all administrative issues we all have to take care of sometimes. Having more time to relax and engage in something else between workweeks, I find myself more motivated and eager to jump back into it on Monday. Being well-rested helps me work on my projects with the attention, care, and insight that they deserve, and I don’t have to compromise on the quality of my work.
Now, instead of thinking that my life is everything outside of my job, I have noticed that work has actually become a very enjoyable part of my life. And I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
It’s time for a recalibration of your employees’ needs. It’s time to make your workforce more productive, more motivated, happier, and healthier than before.
It’s time for a change.
Erika on behalf of Kasvu Labs
Marchand, A., Blanc, M. E., & Beauregard, N. (2018). Do age and gender contribute to workers’ burnout symptoms?. Occupational Medicine, 68, 405–411.
Olsson, B. (1999). Reduced Working Hours and Extended Operation Hours: A Profitable Change to a 6+ 6‐Hour Shift Model in Essilor Oy. Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting.
Vorontsov, M., & Belyaeva, N. (2019). 6-hour work day instead of usual 8: feasibility (or benefits) of implementation for ukrainian enterprises. Экономический вестник Донбасса, (4), 186–188.
Wolfsberger, J., & Rübelmann, J. L. (2017). The 30-hour Workweek-A Promising Alternative for Knowledge Workers?.
Åkerstedt, T., Olsson, B., Ingre, M., Holmgren, M., & Kecklund, G. (2001). A 6-hour working day-effects on health and well-being. Journal of human ergology, 30(1–2), 197–202.