Yahoo! News, as part of its 360 series that presents a variety of perspectives on the day’s top stories and debates, recently focused on the four-day work week.
You can find the story at this link.
In March, a group of progressive Democrats introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would make the four-day workweek the new standard under federal law. While that proposal is unlikely to become law, that it’s even being considered by some is a signal of momentum for the idea of reducing the standard workweek to four days.
That prompted this opinion piece by Spartan writer Evie Giffin that assessed the pros and cons and arrived at a conclusion on the value of making that significant a change.
By Evie Giffin
THE FOUR-day work week has been a hot topic on a wide range of websites. As such, I have seen a lot of people confused on some of the benefits. Some people who think it will only hurt businesses and that the “daily grind” is the only way for our society to function. However, this is very wrong as the five-day work week was only implemented in the 1930s because people were working every day and getting burnt out. As such, below are my reasons why I am in favor of the four-day week:
A lot of jobs don’t require five days to accomplish.
This means a lot of employees will spend the last hour or two of their day doing nothing. This is nothing new and according to Abby McCain on Zippia.com, “89% of workers admit to wasting time every day at work” and “U.S. employees spend an average of 2.9 hours per 8-hour workday doing non-work activities.” Assuming these statistics are accurate, cutting a day back would mean the employees using all of their work time doing work-related activities. This also means that they will be able to use those “wasted” hours to do whatever they want rather than spend it doing something to distract them online due to restraints of work. The four-day work week means that the owners won’t be paying their employees to sit around but rather to make a contribution.
Blue collar workers have more flexibility and aren’t feeling as much of a burnout.
In the article, some argue that employees might be more stressed with the time constraint and that a lot of jobs can’t be done in four days. I don’t believe that this is wrong but I do believe that this is a red herring as the articles that I’ve seen only reference it in white-collar businesses at the moment. Blue-collar jobs often have more flexible schedules anyway. According to a survey by Express Employment Professionals. “On average, blue-collar workers in the U.S. work about 41 hours per week … U.S. blue-collar workers have been working for a total of 22 years and in their current jobs for approximately 10 years.” They also say that the blue-collar workers are proud of their work and satisfied with what they do with those statistics reaching 91% and 86% respectively.
People think the market should decide. Here’s why it shouldn’t.
The problem with the market deciding that the employees schedule is capitalism. The way that capitalism works is that if you start to become successful, a lot of people will push themselves and their employees to work harder and longer to try to hold onto that windfall of success. This is a bigger problem for major companies as small businesses are still getting up off the ground and thus require the work in the first place before they can afford to not put more than the average hours of work into their business. However, the four-day work week conversation is focused on established businesses changing their work schedules to increase efficiency who can afford to do so because they have a large amount of profit, they have systems in place, and the work that needs to be done is well-known and unlikely to change enough to require an extra eight hours of work. Corporate greed showed itself in the “meat crisis” of Smithfield and Tyson. Then-President Trump hyped their PR about a “meat shortage.” Meat-packing plants pressured staff to work regardless of illness, in conditions that were even more unsafe than usual. With this, production fell. The kicker is that the U.S. wasn’t having a meat shortage as they could continue exporting meat as usual but the meat prices skyrocketed, according to Food & Water Watch.
There are a lot of health benefits to the four-day work week.
In multiple studies, researchers found that when switching to a four day work week with full pay, “[the workers] experienced measurable reductions in their levels of burnout, stress, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems by the end of the six-month trial,” according to health.com. This means that with their time off and full pay, they aren’t going to feel the drag or lack of focus that comes with burnout. This allows them to actually focus and do a good job when they are on the clock. It also means that people won’t have to call out as much for being sick because they are less likely to get sick during the week. Also, they could schedule doctor appointments on the day of the week that they have off rather than take a sick day to go themselves or take their children (businessinsider.com). Sometimes, even as a student, I will not feel reenergized until the end of Sunday and then the next day I have to come back to school and start the grind all over again, and I’m not even a professional with a 9-to-5 job or an athlete. The translation to suddenly increasing my hours by a lot (excluding homework) seems daunting.
This would be a more gender neutral move.
The reason that this would be a more gender neutral shift in our society is due to the fact that fathers and mothers who may always be working and have very little energy for the weekends will have time to relax and recharge so that they can enjoy their family time. “The “motherhood penalty” is reflected in a woman’s lower pay—and often lower status at work — throughout her career” according to the world economic forum. In fact, “Some…argue that working less intensively at the points in careers when people are busiest, for example with young children, makes so much sense that we should push any full-time working later in life.” and that because the four-day work week with equal pay would be more gender neutral as women wouldn’t have to take days off to care for their child as that is usually a priority and responsibility put on women. It would also mean that dads can do the same thing and get to take a more active role in raising their children than just spending a couple hours at night and paying for some things.
Overall, the implementation of a four-day work week in most industries whether white collar or blue collar, overlapping or closing the business for three days, resulted in more benefits than cons to the business because employees were happier, healthier, and more motivated to work, resulting in high profits and employee retention ratings.
Evie Giffin is a senior majoring in Professional Writing and Literary and Textual Studies.
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