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HUMAN RESOURCES

In Praise of the Six-Hour Day
 

Author John Izzo believes that employees will continue to push for more flexible hours.
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John Izzo thinks he knows how workers really feel. As the author of a new book called Values Shift: The New Work Ethic and What It Means for Business, Izzo believes that employees will continue to push for more flexible hours. "There's been a shift in the work/family balance," he says, "and people expect the accommodation to be much stronger."

One old idea whose time has come again, says Izzo, is the six-hour workday. But Benjamin Hunnicutt is not so sure. A professor of leisure studies at the University of Iowa, he wrote a book called Kellogg's Six-Hour Day, which reports on the rise and fall of the idea at cereal giant Kellogg, of Battle Creek, Mich. He's devoted his career to the study of the "short-hours movement," which lasted roughly 100 years (from about 1835 to 1935). The movement stalled out at eight hours in the 1930s. Yet at Kellogg, the six-hour day reigned for 50 years, until 1985. Why did it end? "It's a cultural change at Kellogg and everywhere," says Hunnicutt. "Leisure has been trivialized."

Still, the six-hour day continues to pop up in some European companies and in a few U.S. factories that have used it as a recruiting tool, according to Hunnicutt. And it's a concept that should appeal to more company owners, Izzo says. "Entrepreneurs are hard driving, but they intuitively know that long hours don't equal productivity," he says. "There's a reason for the 'napping movement."


The Quotable Entrepreneur

"Being the CEO of a company is like being a DJ in a nightclub: you're responsible for keeping the crowd happy. But when I was a DJ, the job was 9 at night to 3 in the morning. As CEO it's never ending."
--Jeff Taylor, CEO of Monster.com, an online recruiting service in Maynard, Mass.


CEO'S NOTEBOOK

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In Praise of the Six-Hour Day
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In a Former Life: James L. Pate

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Last updated: Jan 1, 2001




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