This is something that has come up quite a bit in conversations over the past 6 months, but the resistance seems to be quite strong in Australia. This blog is aimed to open a conversation, as the statistics are irrefutable, if applied correctly.
The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Ireland and Denmark all currently have a model in place to ensure that employees have a strong work life balance. The Netherlands have a 4 day working week. The statistics are hard to argue with, there are studies proving that productivity and profits increase when this method is used. There is a case study completed in 2015 in Sweden, where they have implemented a 6-hour working day, where Toyota experienced an increase in profits and a much lower turnover rate.
More relevant to the Australian market, I read an article about an organisation in Tasmania that has moved to a 5-hour working day. In the article, the owner of the business mentioned the risk he took owning a small to medium business, questioning whether the work would be completed. As a result, he had 90% less sick days and with almost no staff turnover. This seems fluffy, but when you take in consideration that the Australian economy loses $33 billion a year in the loss of productivity and payroll costs due to sick days, it makes you think. And if you look at the staff turnover, recruiting replacements, whether it’s outsourced or not, is expensive, particularly in terms of labour hours lost. So if you can make changes that will improve your staff turnover, you will save yourself a lot of time and money.
Lastly, I want to look at the other end of the spectrum and what this means for us as a society as a whole. I think most people are familiar with Karoshi, a phenomenon in Japan of people ending up in life threatening situations due over work. There are also clear statistics implying that people who work more than 55 hours per week, are a third more likely to develop a stroke. This statistic, combined with several other studies, clearly shows that more working hours does not lead to higher productivity. So it makes you think, why we are so resistant to this idea?
I understand in some roles you may have to work outside what is considered to be standard working hours. However, for positions where it’s not an inherent requirement and as a business owner, you should be asking yourself whether this might work for you and your business. If it does, imagine what that means for the time (and money) spent on recruitment.