The article in the url below reports the results of a fascinating piece of research that raises challenging questions for the American work ethic:
"For about a year, nurses at the Svartedalens retirement home have worked six-hour days on an eight-hour salary. They're part of an experiment funded by the Swedish government to see if a shorter workday can increase productivity. The conclusion? It does."
For a while, I have been aware of research showing that French workers are more productive than American workers. In other words, American workers produce more than French workers in total purely because they work more hours. On a per person, per hour basis, however, French workers are more efficient and productive. The study reported in the article in the url below provides additional empirical support for that thesis:
"As with any cultural shift in the workplace, the six-hour day has to prove itself more than just humane. For any employer, in Sweden or elsewhere (and perhaps especially in the U.S.), an abridged workweek can't damage productivity if it's going to have a chance. A year's worth of data from the project, which compares staff at Svartedalens with a control group at a similar facility, showed that 68 nurses who worked six hour days took half as much sick time as those in the control group. And they were 2.8 times less likely to take any time off in a two-week period, said Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project."
There is also evidence to suggest that the quality of the care being provided by the nurses increased (in addition to the quantity):
"Less surprising was that the nurses were 20 percent happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. This allowed them to do 64 percent more activities with elderly residents, one of the metrics researchers used to measure productivity."
At present, the American worker is far from a six-hour day:
"Even with encouraging results, it's unlikely that the U.S. will soon shift to shorter days. Americans work around 38.6 hours per week, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They get, on average, fewer than eight paid vacation days a year; only about three-quarters of workers get any paid time off at all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics."
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The Six-hour Workday Works in Europe. What about America?
By Rebecca Greenfield
May 10, 2015