Last month, I wrote an editorial asking whether it was time to evolve, adjust or phase out the five-day, 40-hour workweek.
In addition to a discussion at EBN’s blog the Daily Diversion, I received about a dozen emails in response to the editorial. Since open communication is a parent of progress, I thought I’d share a couple with you.
The first is from a reader named Robert, who believes shareholder satisfaction trumps employees’ work-life balance:
“Change is not always ‘progressive.’ Why aren't employers adopting a 4-day workweek? Could it be because they are trying to make their companies survive or even flourish? Perhaps they are trying to be available to their customers. Kowtowing to employee desires should be low on management’s list of priorities. Doing the right thing for shareholders should probably be No. 1, which often means doing what is good for customers. It also may involve doing nice things for employees but as a means to giving value to the shareholders, not as an end in itself.
HR departments are overflowing with people looking out for ways to spend company money on employees. The sooner we stop trying to be nannies to employees, the sooner we will be doing a greater service to employers. Healthy employers are the best present we can give to our employees.”
On the other side of the spectrum is another reader, Sandy, who wrote me recently to share this:
“I have been working a compressed four-day work week for more than two years. I am a salaried employee and not in a situation where I am expected to log my each and every hour that I work. As long as I get my job done — whether it takes 32 hours or 60 hours — that is what is expected of me, and that is the work ethic that I uphold.
[However] there is still, at least in my company, the attitude that the more hours you work, regardless of productivity, the more successful you want to be. In my circumstance, I am fortunate to have a boss who does not think in this manner. In fact, she offered me the compressed work week without me even asking. She values my contributions and fully trusts that I will get the job done, not matter what.
For me, the compressed work week gives me a much higher quality of life and work-life balance. I am able to be a fully productive employee and earn a full salary needed to support my family. At the same time, I am able to spend precious time with my young children, save costs on day care, and get a few household things done before the weekend arrives. It then offers us more family time on the weekend, something we need to learn to value more in this country.”
Whether you’re on Team Robert, Team Sandy or somewhere in the middle, I’m grateful and encouraged by this discussion and hope it continues. Please leave your thoughts in the comments or email me.
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