Sweden has again led the way globally in terms of workplace initiatives this time striving to get an ideal work-life balance by introducing a 6-hour workday last year. Initial results of this exciting experiment have found increased productivity, less staff turnover and a reduction in sick days. (Svartadalen nursing home trial)
A closely monitored trial was implemented last year amongst workers in a Svartadalen nursing home where daily working hours were reduced 6 hours. Residents were interviewed throughout this process and the general feedback was that the actual standard of care had improved. Management found that productivity increased, staff were a lot happier and the number of sick days reduced significantly.
The Swedish initiative is based on a number of premises. The main one being that a happy worker is a better and more productive worker. The second premise is that work expands to fill the amount of time allocated to it. So on the other side of the equation, when less time is allocated, people will work harder and become more productive when there is less time to complete a task. The third premise is that it is much easier to maintain focus and energy levels for six hours than it is for eight, thus increasing productivity.
Several businesses across Sweden have already implemented this initiative. In fact, Toyota in Gothenburg implemented the six-hour workday 13 years ago. Toyota found that they were not only a very attractive option in attracting new talent. But, employees were much happier in the workplace and as a result there was less employee churn, less sick days and profits actually increased by 25%.
With the apparent success of the 6-hour workday in Sweden, it begs the question would this initiative work in the rest of Europe or is it simply another Swedish phenomenon?