Does Working Fewer Hours Lead to Greater Happiness?

Working fewer hours

Earlier this month, approximately 5,000-10,000 employees at Deutsche Post participated in a strike to emphasize the union’s position on certain issues ahead of upcoming contract negotiations.

Among other points of interest in the contract, the labor union is seeking a reduction of weekly employee hours from 38.5 to 36 for the same weekly rate of pay. Hours worked beyond 36 per week would fall into overtime pay.

The concept of fewer work week hours is not uncommon in certain countries.  In France, employees enjoy an official 35-hour work week, though the average number of hours employees actually work is usually higher. In the Netherlands, four-day work weeks are standard. While employees with more time off generally have less income than their counterparts in the United States, their well-being may be higher.

A study conducted by UNICEF in 2007 outlined countries where children had a higher level of material well-being. Countries with higher well-being amongst children were the ones that promoted fewer employee work hours per year.

Independent think tank NEF takes the reduced work week concept even further, suggesting that a 21 hour work week should be the norm. The group suggests that the end result would help safeguard the natural resources of the planet, enhance social justice and well-being for all, and promote a robust and prosperous economy among other benefits.

Whatever the outcome of the Deutsche Post contract negotiations, the debate on whether reduced work hours would be beneficial to employers and employees is likely to continue for many years to come.

Do you think the number of standard work week hours should be reduced in the United States?

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7 Comments

  1. grannybunny

     /  April 28, 2015

    I do not believe that the number of hours in a standard work week should be reduced in the U. S. However, I do believe that our workplaces should be more “family-friendly,” with flexible schedules — including telecommuting — where possible, paid leave, etc.

  2. Anonymous

     /  April 29, 2015

    The Post office has reduced work hours.

    • grannybunny

       /  April 29, 2015

      Really? The ELM still defines full-time as 40 hours per week.

      • Anonymous

         /  April 30, 2015

        True but people aren’t really working 40 hours a week…hence the reduced work hours 😉

  3. Anonymous

     /  April 29, 2015

    I do like the idea of 4 day work weeks. I know there are some public schools that only go 4 days a week, so why not the rest of the workforce. And when or where possible they could still do 36 or 40 hour weeks. I would much rather work an extra hour or two each day and get a 3rd day off. But working for the USPS, unless they choose to stop window service on Saturdays, I will just keep working 6 days a week. Thankful for my job though!

  4. Jonn

     /  April 29, 2015

    I’d love to see a 4 day workweek too. It doesn’t have to be consecutive though, say weekend and Wed off. How awesome would that feel to come in Mon and know there’s another day off in a couple days? It would feel like Fri on Tues too. Talk about a morale booster.

  5. grannybunny

     /  April 30, 2015

    Any way to get those spam messages about the illegal ATM cards off of here?

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