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Breaking Glass

Could shorter workdays make for better workers?

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Wednesday morning I read an interesting article about the continued research on shorter work days, and I thought, not only is this something that both men and women can appreciate, it may also be key to helping more overwhelmed women feel like they can have it all.

For example, the article details how Andrew Bauer — chief executive officer of Royce Leather in Secaucus — increased his company’s output and his employees’ happiness by reducing the workday to seven hours instead of eight.

One hour is all it took.

(Remember the pie chart theory? How would you choose to fill that hour instead?)

To be fair, Bauer also significantly increased the product development and design staff’s pay to encourage them to start working 10 hours a day to allow for more time to collaborate and generate new ideas.

But, overall, there is value in knowing what works for each individual employee — and for women to know that they can work for a company that values their productivity and contributions more than the time they dedicate to each task.

This may also be a way for companies to recruit more women.

Generally — IMHO — women tend to feel more guilt when having to spend longer hours in the office away from their families (this has often been touted as one of the reasons for the gender pay gap and low number of women executives).

But reducing the designated workday hours will not only assist women in managing their busy lives, it will allow both men and women the freedom to dedicate more time to other responsibilities and interests — making them more well-rounded, happier employees. 

That’s exactly why shorter work days have often resulted in increased efficiency and sick-time reduction.

After all, if an employee feels she can achieve stronger focus and complete her assigned tasks in less time, her value for the company hasn’t changed — her mentality has.

And while shorter hours shouldn’t result in less pay, those that choose to work longer hours should be paid more — that just makes sense.

But I have a sneaky feeling that if employees were given the choice, an overwhelming amount of women might just trade in a higher salary for more time to get things done.

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