The economic and psychological advantages of reduced working days

in LeoFinance11 months ago

Recently, there has been much talk about the pros and cons of reducing the number of working days per week in developed countries to 4 days, so that the weekend becomes 3 days instead of two days. While an increasing number of companies have already taken the initiative to reduce working days and reported mostly encouraging results.

Image Source

"The Conversation website" concluded, according to a comparison of its contracts, that working more days is not an indicator of economic success, given that the annual working hours of Britons are 11% more than the number of hours worked by Germans.

The site added, quoting a study conducted by two researchers from the School of Economics at the University of Salford, that 9 of the ten most productive countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development are in continental Europe. This region has a long tradition of long public holidays, with little but positive evidence of the impact on economic activity.

The study indicated that recent experiments to reduce the number of working days without compromising wages in a number of countries, including Iceland, which conducted experiments between 2015 and 2019 that eventually included about 90 percent of its workforce, showed a tendency to extend the weekly vacation without affecting its wages.

It may seem that paying full wages for 80% of working hours previously is uneconomical, but the experience of the United Kingdom showed that the overwhelming majority of companies were satisfied because business performance and productivity were maintained and an improvement in the rate of employee retention was observed.

According to the study, the most important gains for employees from the 4-day-a-week experience were in the area of well-being. The UK experience showed that 39% of employees were less stressed and 71% of them reported reduced levels of burnout by the end of the experiment.

Their average mental health rose from 2.95 at the start of the trial to 3.32 (on a 5-point scale), an increase of 13% and 54% of the participants reported a decrease in their negative emotions.

A trial conducted in Ireland and completed in 2022 showed a similar increase in feelings of well-being and a decrease in levels of anxiety and negative emotions. The New Zealand study recorded a strong positive effect on well-being.

A study of the feelings of well-being resulting from public holidays in 200 countries showed that decreasing the number of holidays by one holiday reduced the likelihood of feeling happy by 0.8 percentage points, but this had no effect on a measure of life satisfaction in the long run.