A group of nurses in Sweden decided to cut their workday by two hours and reported increased levels of happiness, productivity, and improved patient outcomes.
Time is a precious commodity – what would you do with more hours in your day? This question has been posed for eons, but only in recent years has become truly relevant.
Many people – especially Americans – work far more than the advocated 40 hours per week, and, in effect, are experiencing intolerable levels of stress (which inevitably causes health and happiness to decline). Always in quest to obtain ‘more’ and pay off debt, few take time to ‘smell the roses’ and enjoy life, quite simply because they feel they can’t.
But what if a solution was offered that allowed everyone to work only 6 hours a day? It sounds like a far-off dream, but a group of nurses in Sweden now know first-hand how beneficial having even just a couple hours more in the day can be for health and happiness.
As The Guardian reports, a group of nurses working at a nursing home in Sweden decided to institute a six-hour workday, hoping to increase productivity and improve their quality of life. They received the same pay but had two extra hours to their day.
Their experiment proved to be amazingly successful. Workers experienced higher satisfaction at the job, leading to reduced turnover and fewer sick days. Lise-Lotte Pettersson, one of the nurses who partook in the switch, noted that reduced hours actually inspired improved patient outcomes. She stated:
“I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa. But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work … You cannot allow elderly people [her clients] to become stressed, otherwise it turns into a bad day for everyone.”
In order to reduce people’s shifts, it was necessary for administrators to hire more staff (and add more jobs), making the financial consequences and externalities unclear. Research has consistently proven, however, that longer working hours translates into declines in productivity, as well as GDP.
Economists like John Hicks argue that: “Probably it has never entered the heads of most employers … that hours could be shortened and output maintained.” But that’s exactly what the experiment has proven.
Sweden is pushing the norm in a number of ways. Not only did the country run out of garbage (and now has to import it from other countries to burn for energy), it’s considering implementing a ‘meat tax’ to cut down on carbon emissions. Keep pushing the envelope, Sweden, you’re showing the world what is possible!
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