A new study suggests that converting a five-day work week into a four-day one would result in higher job satisfaction and lower levels of work-family conflict. iTALK asks if it's a plausible proposition in the Indian context
Many of man's problems would disappear if we had a four-day week. You could spend precious time with your loved ones, visit a mall, watch a movie, sleep in the afternoon, and do all that you've always wanted to. A new research reaffirms that view. Converting a five-day into a four-day week would certainly result in higher job satisfaction and lower levels of work-family conflict, thus leading to higher productivity, says the study.
Researchers Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth of BYU's Romney Institute of Public Management analysed the potential benefits of Utah government's four-day work week transition and found that the employees were satisfied with their jobs, and enhanced productivity. They found that even though four-day week employees invest the same number of hours per week as their traditional work-week counterparts, they admitted to being more satisfied with their jobs, compensation and benefits, and were less likely to change their jobs. They also added that the extra time augmented family-time to more than 60%, which subsequently resulted in higher productivity.
The horrors of working hard, not smart
>>People with stressful jobs are twice as likely to die from heart disease, according to a 2002 study in the British Medical Journal.
>>Individuals who work over 48 hours per week have double the risk of heart disease, according to a 1996 UK government report.
>>Long-term job strain is worse for your heart than gaining 40lbs in weight or aging 30 years, according to a 2003 US study.
>>Work kills more than war. Approximately two million workers die annually due to occupational injuries and illnesses, according to a United Nations report. This is more than double the figure for deaths from warfare (650,000 deaths per year). Work kills more people than alcohol and drugs put together.
>>Rising stress at work is causing increasing numbers of young professionals to grind their teeth while they sleep, according to the British Dental Health Foundation.
In recession, 4-day weeks can come in handy
Mangesh Kirtane, founder, OD Consultancy Firm (Alchemy) and OBL Institute (Pegasus)
Many employers follow a 5-day week since this system offers a judicious balance between business and personal needs. Employees utilise Saturday or any other weekday for commitments with regard to family members or tasks which otherwise can't be done on Sunday. A four-day week is very useful for single parent or ladies who have several demands at home like weekly shopping.
A four-day week is a difficult proposition for small or growing organisations where quite a few things have to be put in place before business and operations stabilise. This policy will help in the times of recession. One can strike a balance between the tricky demand and supply effectively, without undertaking large scale reduction in work force.
4-day week will increase goodwill, efficiency
Mansi Shah, assistant manager, HR Insta Group
Here are a few vital benefits of a four-day week, also referred to as a compressed week:
>>Overhead cost of electricity and maintenance is controlled.
>>It motivates employees to be efficient, in turn increasing productivity.
>>The goodwill of the employer increases.
>>It gives employees time for a personal life.
A four-day week is only beneficial to certain companies if they are just process oriented. Service oriented firms need to be available to customers 24x7 or their market stand will be hampered. Instead of a six-day week, alternate Saturdays off will work with them, as it will take care of employees as well as customers. Rotating shifts can also be recommended. But a four-day week doesn't look possible in India.
We are Indians; we need to work hard
Mansi Gohil Visual Merchandiser, Spykar
Considering our workload, we need a four-day week but as employees, we should be willing to report to work when need be. Following international work culture blindly is one mistake that we should avoid as we have a completely different work culture and work attitude.
Birendrasingh Thakur, MD, SSSP
A four-day week doesn't suit the Indian work culture. We are hard workers and let's not forget there are people who work on daily wages too. Time management is the need of the hour, if we want to cut down to a four-day week. But from what I see, employees are quite satisfied with a 2-day break.
Anuja Mehta, Partner, Ameeja Enterprises
I personally follow a four-day week because it's very important to balance professional and personal life. Today, professionals randomly walk in to office, and work until it suits them. But they don't realise that time management is important. If an individual works smart, then a four-day week is possible.
Ambarin Afsar, Client Servicing at an ad firm
I think a four-day week sounds great but it doesn't make sense for those who work in creative fields. Who wouldn't want a three-day off? I am sure a four-day week will be more productive for any firm as the employees won't be stressed and over-worked, resulting in fresh ideas on Monday.
Overwork=suicide in Japanese
Harakiri is a uniquely Japanese form of suicide. Its corporate equivalent is karoshi, "death by overwork".
According to a report in AFP, since this was legally recognised as a cause of death in the 1980s, the number of cases submitted to the government for the designation has soared; so has the number of court cases that result when the government refuses an application.
In 1988 only about 4% of applications were successful. By 2005 that share had risen to 40%. If a death is judged karoshi, surviving family members may receive compensation of around $20,000 a year from the government and sometimes up to $1m from the company in damages. For deaths not designated karoshi the family gets next to nothing. But with the global downturn sapping demand for Japanese exports, more and more workers are willing to take their chances literally working themselves to death each year.
Police say that more than 2,200 Japanese committed suicide due to work conditions in 2007.