The results are in. After a two-year study in the Swedish town of Gothenburg, we now know what happened when people only worked 30 hours a week. Spoiler: It was great for employees. And horrible for their employer.
The participants in the study worked at a municipal retirement home called Svartedalens. Before the study period, they worked standard eight-hour days. For 24 months, they worked six-hour days. They were paid the same as before.
A check-in last April found the experiment to be progressing well. Positives included better health and productivity among workers and fewer missed shifts, New York Times reported. Now that the study's complete, a few of the cold, hard numbers include the following:
- Employees reported higher energy levels and efficiency
- They called in sick 15 percent less often
- They reported their health improved 20 percent
That group certainly lucked out. A nearby retirement home also participated as a control group. They kept to an eight-hour workday. Those workers reported increased blood pressure and no improvement to their health, peace of mind or productivity.
Reducing the workday would seem like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, slashing work hours also skyrocketed costs. As it turns out, the whole thing was massively expensive for Svartedalens.
Even though workers were more productive, Svartedalens needed to cover those 10 extra hours a week that each of their employees weren't working. So they had to create 17 new nursing positions to make up for that lost time. New York Times reports the final price tag of those new jobs cost €700,00 a year, or $738,000.
In all, the experiment increased the nursing home's operating costs by 22 percent. There was a glimmer of hope. By creating new jobs, Svartedalens reduced costs to the state by 10 percent because those workers were no longer on unemployment and began paying taxes.
Still, the experiment had a hefty price tag. So although the pros were many for the workers, it's not likely the 30-hour workweek will be adopted anytime soon -- or even the idea entertained.
The push to improve employee happiness and productivity will continue. But getting more hours back in your day probably isn't going to happen.