Four Day Work Week, A Slam Against Capitalism; Will India Go Along With The Trend? Read On And Find Out
Have you heard of philosopher Immanuel Kant’s ‘Categorical Imperative’ approach? It’s the idea that one shouldn’t use another person as a commodity to achieve benefit from. Do you think this approach is followed in today’s employment sector? If not, how can we do justice to it?
We are the slaves of capitalism whereby we are always treated like machines for competitiveness. No doubt that everyone needs to be on top. But don’t we need a set of smart, ambitious, and compassionate working force? Unfortunately, a report released by the International Labour Organisation reveals that the world’s most resilient workforce obviously the Indian workforce, is also the most overworked and underpaid in the world.
Being part of this huge employment sector, we ourselves know that many of our organizations go beyond a fixed working schedule. Not just that, employees are overloaded with work and still deprived of a pay increment. Many of the employees are treated a third-rate based on their gender, race, and ethnicity. Surely, these inhumane behavioral practices can only be resolved through providing soft skill training and installing core values. Besides such a skill set, we need a healthy working atmosphere, I mean something formal.
With the pandemic around, most works have become remote. What about the working hours? If the scheduled shift was 8 hours, many had to work for 2-3 hours extra. Now when it changed to Work From a Home mode, the working hours have even been dragged making it an extra work of around 2-4 hours from the fixed shift. And unsurprisingly, there is neither a salary hike nor any incentives.
Here comes the relevance of Four Day Work Week. Any guesses on what it is? Yes, you guessed it right. It is a proposal to make the new standard working days to four with the same pay. Countries like Japan, Spain, New Zealand, Finland, Australia, China, and recently Iceland already began experimenting with the four-day workweek.
Four Day WorkWeek; What Iceland Reveals
The four-day workweek implies having four working days in a week. Mostly, the pattern goes on like making Monday and Tuesday working days, Wednesday off, Thursday and Friday working days, and Saturday and Sunday falling again under off. Let’s analyze the proposal, not necessarily a four-day workweek but a shortened working week, practically conducted in Iceland. The study involved 66 workplaces and nearly 2,500 workers.
The report shows that employees shifted from a 40 hour to a 35 hour week and without reduced pay. The study also shows a notable increase in the productivity of employees within the fixed working hours. This means reducing working days without a salary cut is actually boosting the capability of employees without compromising the output. Following the report, Iceland’s major organizations and agencies have now agreed to reduce the working hours.
Are you wondering why there was high productivity with low working hours? It is due to the ‘Hawthorne effect’ of the 1930s. A similar trial in the US showed an increase in productivity levels with lesser working hours. Now when it comes to the post-Covid era, the reduced working hours will help people spend more time with their families. As they are not subjected to a cutoff, this will also enable a slow revival of the economy.
But simultaneously it was learned that this four-day workweek or shortened working hours could not yield better results in many organizations. Reduced working hours mean doing smart work. And many employees were exposed to more stress which in turn decreased their productivity too.
Another element for a failure in the Hawthorne effect was the lack of motivation. When employees struggled to meet the strict and shorter working hours, they were constantly pushed by employers. And it means that a four-day workweek has its own pros and cons depending on the person, profession, and the organization in which he/ she is a part. To overcome the cons of four day work week, experts recommend adding more equipment to the job.
However, there is not a second thought on treating the workforce fair and equal. In that case, a four-day workweek is indeed a solution. Implementation is the main aspect to be focused on. Including more automation techniques would make the four-day work week a success.