Aside from being on a perpetual vacation, there are few things that sound as sweet as a shorter workday. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of 8.8 hours per day – that’s 44 hours per week, in case you were counting.
The problem is, all that hard work hasn’t led to more productivity. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that during an 8.8-hour workday, most people were only truly productive for a little less than three hours of it.
If you’re looking to make your agency more productive then you could score some major points (and be in the running for “Boss of the Year” award) by considering a shortened workday. Six hours, to be exact. Here’s why!
A Six-Hour Experiment
Back in 2015, the Swedish government had a question: if they had people only work six hours per day but paid them for eight, how would this impact their job performance? They got their answer – and it’s pretty interesting.
At the Svartedalens retirement home in Gothenburg, Sweden, the government ran a tightly controlled experiment in which they had the staff work for only six hours per day but paid them for a full eight. They compared the data to what they found in a control group at a similar facility, with surprising results.
So, how can a six-hour workday benefit employees? It turns out there were quite a few benefits observed in the Swedish study. They included:
- Productivity Boost
The nurses working six hours per day were 64% more productive than the control group. They also provided a better quality of care to the patients.
You may be thinking, “Well, sure, but this was at a nursing home – how could it benefit a creative agency?” The truth is, there’s no reason to think these results couldn’t be translated to the business world. A boost in productivity could easily lead to great creativity, a friendly environment for your team, and even the completion of more work on time.
- Improved Health
Another interesting finding of the Swedish study was that the six-hour workday folks took half as much sick time over the course of the year than their eight-hour counterparts. This gave them more energy when they were at work, which helped them engage more with the residents of the home.
It’s well-documented that overworked employees are also more likely to be depressed, so it’s not a stretch to think that shorter hours could mean more confidence and improved mood in your employees, too. Healthy workers have better relationships with clients, vendors, and also other employees.
- Reduction in Stress
Every day in the United States, up to one million workers miss work due to stress. About 66% of Americans say that work is the major source of stress in their lives. With fewer work hours each day, stress is naturally reduced, making it easier for employees to meet deadlines and job expectations. Plus, they can have a bit more of a balance between home and work, which makes for happier employees – and that’s never a bad thing.
- More Engaged Employees
Do you think your employees come to work because they’re invested in the mission of your company or simply because it’s a means to an end? Wouldn’t it be nice if it were the former? Well, with a six-hour workday, employees are more engaged and more invested in the company’s goals and objectives. That leads to more success for both employee and employer in staying committed to common values in order to meet goals. Another way to boost productivity!
When you consider that most Americans work more than 40 hours per week, it’s easy to see how reducing that burden can actually make people more productive when at work and make it easier for them to meet commitments outside of work.
You may be skeptical of the six-hour workday. After all, few people are used to working so little but making such huge gains. Of course, there are a few drawbacks to the six-hour plan.
It’s true that implementation can be expensive in the beginning. Switching over to a shorter workday can benefit your agency, but it may be a while before you see results.
Also, for many jobs – especially client-facing positions – six hours simply isn’t enough time to get the job done. So when it comes to the competition, will you be left behind because you’re walking away from your desk at 3 p.m. while your competitors aren’t leaving until 5 p.m.?
If you’re not totally sold on the six-hour workday then you could just make a few adjustments to the way your agency works. Make sure your employees take frequent breaks – at least a short break once per hour. Also, work to streamline and automate certain tasks so that your employees can focus on what really matters. That can help boost their productivity as well, especially when you consider that the average worker is interrupted every three minutes – and it can take them over 20 minutes to get back on track after that interruption!
Ready to collect your trophy for “Boss of the Year” yet? You don’t have to make drastic changes in order to make employees happier and more productive, you simply need to explore alternative ways to make it happen. (Hint: taking a look at the products offered by Productive is a good start!)