In The Grand Scheme Of Life, is The Title Really Important?
While Americans experience increasing stress with the 40-hour work week, many Europeans enjoy a shorter, more productive and serine work environment. A 30-hour work week would be an improvement to the normal 40-hour work week because it’s better for the environment, it will create a stronger economy, and it’s better for employee health.
If you reduce the work week, companies will use less energy for lighting, heating and electronics needed during work hours. Reducing the workweek from 40 to 30 hours would burn less fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint. If people worked just 10% fewer hours the carbon footprint would fall 15%. If they worked 25% fewer hours the carbon footprint would fall 37% (According to Newdream.org).
Global warming is possibly the greatest threat humanity has ever encountered. The very planet we call home may be rendered uninhabitable if it continues. Though the 30-hour work week may not completely solve our global crisis, it's certainly a step in the right direction. All creatures are affected by our mistakes, but we are the only creatures that can possibly alter the consequences.
Working more hours also has a large impact on the well-being of the workers. Obesity, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, heart problems, and stress-related illnesses are caused by too long of a work week. Health problems can arise from long hours of looking at a computer screen; computer screens create glare and glare can cause many long term eye problems and headaches. Doctors office hours coincide with the majority of workers’ schedules, making it an inconvenience that often results in people delaying much needed visits, which may have mortal consequences.
With reduced stress, workers are more productive hour for hour. The amount of absenteeism drops significantly when work hours are reduced. Overtime costs are reduced in direct proportion to reduced absenteeism. This results in a healthier, happier, and more efficient work force. If the workers are at home more often, they can be with their families and friends, creating more positive attitudes and a stronger, healthier commitment to work.
With people working a shorter work day, others can fill those hours. Thus creating more jobs and a better, stronger economy. “An economy that doesn’t grow usually means widespread unemployment, but if you move to a shorter working week, you can get more people into work, off benefits and paying taxes”, Anna Coote, the head of social policy at NEF, explained in a Tedx talk, “Every 3 people who give up hours will make 1 job”. Lower unemployment will reduce crime resulting in less tax dollars being spent on the expensive court and prison process. The tax savings could be utilized for more beneficial purposes such as: schools, roads, bridges, medical research, public safety and our monstrous national debt.
“The Netherlands and Germany have a shorter workweek than the United States and Britain. But the Dutch and German economies are stronger, not weaker. Workers on shorter hours tend to be more productive hour-for-hour. They are under less stress, they get sick less often and they make a more loyal and committed workforce.” (Coote). Plus, it should be noted, that an average employee needs to work only 11 hours per week to produce as much as if they worked 40 hours a week in 1950, proving that longer work hours are inefficient and uselessly expensive to fund. This was presented by Erik Rauch using data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Number of hours per week needed to produce as much as a 40-hour worker in 1975
Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, reduced the work week from 6 days to 5 days and doubled his employee’s pay. In an interview with Capital World’s Work magazine in 1926 Henry said, “The people with a 5-day week will consume more goods than the people with a 6-day week, people who have more leisure must have more clothes. They must have a greater variety of food. They must have more transportation facilities. They naturally must have more service of various kinds. This increased consumption will require greater production than we now have. Instead of business being slowed up because the people are ‘off work’, it will be speeded up ... This will lead to more work. And this to more profits. And this to more wages. The result of more leisure will be the exact opposite of what most people might suppose it to be”. After Henry instituted the 5-day work week, many other companies followed suit. In the late 1930s the US government adopted the 40-hour standard work week. Between the years of 1947 and 2006, the average workweek gradually dropped 6.4 hours, this shows that the work week is evolving with time, without harm to the economy and arguably strengthening it.
The old fashioned ideas of industry would have you believe that man should work for long hours to speed up production. In actuality history has shown, with more hours, comes tired employees that are not prepared to work and end up hurting the company. Exhausted workers are expensive, less effective and more likely to call in sick, which increases the company's overtime cost.
All in all our economy could be so much better if we let our workers have a 30-hour work week. It would allow for more people to consume products and services, which creates more demand, which creates more jobs, more productive and healthier employees, lover unemployment resulting in less crime and a stronger economy. With less crime, tax dollars could be put to better use, and improve this country. Less greenhouse gasses would be produced and global warming will be slowed down tremendously. Europe is pursuing the future of employment and we’re lagging behind.
The 21 Hour Work Week: Anna Coote at TEDxGhent. Perf. Anna Coote. Ted Talk X 21 Hour Work Week. Youtube, 25 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 May 2015.
Rauch, Erik. "Productivity and the Workweek." - Shorter Hours. Web. 22 May 2015. <http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/>.
Coote, Anna. "Reduce the Workweek to 30 Hours." New York Times. N.p., 9 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 May 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/09/rethinking-the-40-hour-work-week/reduce-the-workweek-to-30-hours>.
United States. Beaureau of Labor. Statistics. Average Workweek in the United States. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Census. Web.
Crowthers, Samuel. "Interview Wit Henry Ford." The World's Wok Oct. 1926: n. pag. Print.