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Less is more – Workday Length and Productivity

9am until 5pm. Most people within Australia would consider this to be a standard workday.

However in modern day society it has been seen that within many companies and even societies a shift away from this cultural norm may be highly beneficial. This could create not only better workplace environments but better workplace results for both companies and the individuals that work for them.

Sweden and Work-Life Balance.

A few months ago in October, many national news services reported Sweden’s change in the number of hours in an average workday. Sweden continued its reputation as a highly innovative country through the encouragement of shifting to shorter workdays.

Many companies reportedly have implemented the decision to have shorter working hours resulting in an average 6-hour working day rather than 8-hour shifts.

The rationale behind as such is that there has been the achievement of a better work-life balance for employees. This has led to a greater focus on family and friends, a more enjoyable workplace and even possible health benefits. In return, companies have received higher productivity rates than during longer drawn out 8-hour shifts.

An example of such, according to the BBC author Maddy Savage in her article ‘The truth about Sweden’s short working hours’, is a Swedish Toyota service centre. The centre, which shortened shifts over a decade ago, still maintains this practice due to the massive increase in profitability they achieved.

The Millennial Approach.

According to Forbes Business Magazine, there is an increased need for businesses to focus on millennial's. As the primary workforce of the future many businesses will need to adapt their practises in response to millennial wants and needs.

In respect to altering from the standard 9am to 5pm hours Kate Taylor, the author of the article ‘Why Millennials Are Ending the 9 To 5’ states, “60% of Millennials are leaving their companies in less than three years. With 87% of companies reporting a cost of between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each lost Millennial employee, industries need to start paying attention to structural changes.’

Taylor continues, ‘Reports and studies seem to indicate three roots to Millennial's’ discontent and the resulting upheaval: the drive for flexibility, purposeful labour and economic security”.

This statement is followed up by the result of a branding report suggesting that forty-five percent of millennial's would choose workplace flexibility over pay.

With a shift towards the characteristics and behavioural trends of the upcoming primarily millennial workforce, it appears flexibility and movement away from the rigidity of a nine to five day could be the key to retaining employees for longer. This would also assist in raising and maintaining employee engagement – a vital element of workplace productivity.

Australia’s Path?

Although there have been few studies performed resulting in little conclusive statistical evidence, first hand accounts of many business owners and employees seem encouraging.

More trials are needed, but it does seem that in many cases Australian businesses could potentially obtain a multitude of positives in decreasing and/or changing the rigidity in the number of hours performed in the working day.

What do you think? Could your business benefit from a change to standard hours?

Sources:, Chloe Booker, October 2015, Maddy Savage, November 2015, Kate Taylor August 2013

Image Sources: pexels

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