SWEDEN’S 6-HOUR WORKDAY WON’T SOLVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Sweden’s been in the news recently, and for good reason: Some businesses in the Scandinavian country are attempting to improve work-life balance by enacting six-hour workdays.
It sure sounds nice. But will a six-hour workday really improve work-life balance and employee retention? Not as much as you might think.
If, for example, a 9-to-5 workday becomes a 9-to-3 workday, employees still have to be in a certain place at a certain time. Though the shift was made to improve work-life balance, employees don’t really achieve that balance when they’ve got to be at the office during specific time periods.
To truly achieve work-life balance, employers should adopt flexible working schedules. Essentially, this entails allowing employees to come and go as they please, working when they want and where they want — so long as they do their jobs and do them well.
Here are seven reasons why you should adopt flexible schedules instead of truncating the workday:
1. Your employees will be happier
Flexible schedules make employees’ lives incredibly easier, which in turn makes them happier and improves retention. For example, flexible workers won’t have to figure out how their kids are getting to baseball practice; they can simply leave the office in the afternoon, drop their kids off, and finish their workdays from home.
2. They will be more productive too
Countless studies have shown that happier workers are more productive. When employees work at their leisure, they’re even more productive because they can do their jobs when their minds are clear, relaxed, and refreshed — which sure beats forcing staff to work when they’re least productive (e.g., first thing in the morning).
3. Bad weather won’t force your business to close its doors
Your employees can’t make it to the office during a blizzard — but they’re perfectly able to work from home. Companies that embrace flexible working benefit from business continuity, as employees are already used to doing their jobs from different locations, including their homes.
4. You’ll attract more candidates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 5% of companies offer a majority of their staff flexible working opportunities. Since flexible working arrangements are rare, they’re in higher demand. Flexible working policies make it easy for recruiters to attract and land top talent.
5. Once they land jobs, they’ll stay
Once employees get a taste of the flexible work life, chances are they won’t want to go back to the typical 9-to-5 where they’re chained to their desks all day. Businesses that embrace flexible working can expect less employee turnover.
6. It’s better for the environment
Flexible working means your employees will work from home at least occasionally. With fewer commutes to and from work, your organization will lower its collective carbon footprint.
7. Your employees are adults
Results matter the most. So long as they don’t miss an appointment or bungle their responsibilities, does it really matter when or where employees get their jobs done? Companies that embrace flexible working treat their employees like the adults they are. They don’t babysit.
While Sweden’s six-hour workday is certainly a step in the right direction, the move won’t solve work-life balance by itself. Life moves ridiculously fast these days, which is why true work-life balance can only be achieved through flexible working arrangements.