Employee engagement – lessons from the 6-hour working day in Sweden
There was a lot of fuss about Sweden announcement that companies in different spheres are changing their shifts to six-hour workday. Although this isn’t something that is going to happen soon in other countries, we can learn valuable lessons from Sweden. What are the main reasons for the big change, what is the result so far and what can the business learn from what Sweden has done in terms of company culture and employee engagement?
Reason 1: Well-being
A study published last summer concludes that those who work 55 hours a week have a 33% higher chance of stroke than those who work from 35 to 40 hours. This is just one example that indicate that shorter working days contribute to better employee health and well-being.
These statements are confirmed by the feedback of Swedish employees who claim to be more energetic and focused, both at work and in personal life.
Reason 2: Increased productivity
Continuous concentration for 8 hours is a difficult task for many people, and although there is a lunch break, it is hard to stay focus during the rest of the time. That’s why it’s good for employees to diversify their day with a cup of tea, by checking Facebook or by going to the store for a snack.
Upon switching to a 6-hour workday, a Swedish company (Fillimundus) compensated the lack of hours by asking employees to stop using social networks during business hours, along with this they reduced the number of meetings and briefings. This has had a positive effect.
In a Brath blog post, another company that recently made the change says, ” Today we get more done in 6 hours than comparable companies do in 8. We believe it comes with the high level of creativity demanded in this line of work. We believe nobody can be creative and productive in 8 hours straight. 6 hours is more reasonable, even though we too, of course, check Facebook or the news at times.”
Reason 3: Increased satisfaction
At Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, working hours have been shorter for more than a decade. The story shared by the director in an interview with The Guardian is quite impressive: “Staff feel better, there is low turnover and it is easier to recruit new people,” Banck says. “They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines and lower capital costs – everyone is happy.” Profits have risen by 25%, he adds.
Regarding the implementation of the new work shifts, we can also consider the opinion of CEO of Filimundus software company: “The biggest response that I couldn’t foresee was the energy level I felt with my colleagues. They were happy leaving the office and happy coming back the next day… That has also helped the work groups to work better together now.”
Even with an 8-hour business day, it is possible to create an environment where employee satisfaction is high and coming back happy the next day. This completely depends on the company culture you have created. Your employees want to feel valued, respected and proud of the work they do and the company they work for. Keep this in mind and you will surely take the right path to creating and maintaining a team that enjoys and looks forward to the business day. Although most countries do not intend to switch to a 6-hour workday, the positive outcomes of this change and what we can learn from them remain visible. Employees health, productivity and satisfaction are three important aspects for the development of each business. Even with an 8-hour workday there are many ways to make your employees healthy, productive and happy.