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BW Businessworld

Working 5 Days A Week

US leads the way with overtime, with 49% of the population exceeding 40 hours a week, followed by India which is at 44%, Mexico at 40%, and Germany at 38%.

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We Indians are overworked. Although most of the staple diet and weather conditions in India are known to make us lazy, a majority of our workforce, especially in cities, work 6 days a week. While putting in higher number of hours should logically be directly proportional to higher success, is it really? What about time to unwind, think and relax, at the cost of putting in a lesser number of hours, and working smartly? Those few hours could be much more productive.

Letting employees and promoters create a work-life balance results in larger organizational efficacy and people finishing their work before deadlines. Having a 40-hours week results in larger employee satisfaction who can now have time to run errands and chores, watch television, catch up on current affairs and more effectively, grow into individuals, and will make the 40 hours count more. There is a strong case for working 5 days a week, which is the norm almost all over the world. We have to understand that there is life beyond work and that is the part where people enjoy their work bounty.

There are often times, when there’s additional work and people have to come in on Saturdays or even Sundays. Employees should make it count for their employees by compensating them with bonus or factor it in their extra days for added benefits. They could relieve them with an extra day off too. This is important for the mental and physical wellbeing of our population at large, who barely get time to unwind and focus on their health, get exercise and live in a humane way.

Often, we see that employees are made to work for the larger interest of the organization, but do they think in the larger interest? Are they committed? They will if they are given friendlier conditions of working. There is a difference between a promoter or senior manager with stock and bonus options working 6 days a week and an employee made to come to work on a Saturday. The incentive level is not the same. All employees don’t target a bonus or a promotion and may have bleak prospects, in which case, their life begins to focus around their work. That is not right. They have to have that one extra day off to do the things they want. Hobbies, socializing, movies, music and higher lifestyle bandwidth keep one in good condition and time to self and family helps inculcate better work performance as the mind is fresh. They will work better and faster the remaining hours.

Ever heard of groupthink? It is a phenomenon that occurs when few people are bound together and can’t think out of the box. They think within four walls of confinement and that is a result of being overworked or stuck mentally within the same set of people. This can occur with working around the clock. Indians are known to be the hardest working, according to a 2018 survey by US-based multi-national workforce management firm Kronos Incorporated, where 69% confessed they love going to work 5 days a week, even if they had the option of going less times a week. Mexico was next at 43%, USA at 27%, Germany, UK at 16%, France at 17% and Australia at 19%. If you analyze these countries, they already work only 5 days a week for most part, with Indians having Saturdays as a working day, or alternative Saturdays. Today, there are talks and research going on for lowering the number of working days further and after the lessons of this pandemic, working from home for a few days.

US leads the way with overtime, with 49% of the population exceeding 40 hours a week, followed by India which is at 44%, Mexico at 40%, and Germany at 38%. This is according to the same survey. A lot of jobs, such as administrative services, medical professionals, customer centric roles and others have to work round the clock, and work for higher number of hours a day and work higher number of days a week. In such cases, they should be more shifts, more employees and added compensation. The idea is to reduce stress.

During and after the industrial revolution, people worked as much as 100 hours a week. However, Mr Ford, on September 25, 1926 at the same salary declared 40-hour weeks for Ford Motor Company at the same salary. His reasons, at that time, were unique. He said "Leisure is an indispensable ingredient in a growing consumer market because working people need to have enough free time to find uses for consumer products, including automobiles. It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either 'lost time' or a class privilege,". Around 1940, 40 hours week became a standard norm globally.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Vaibhav Maloo

The author is Managing Director of Enso Group. He resides in Mumbai. He holds an undergraduate degree in business from Carnegie Mellon University and a postgraduate diploma in global business from Oxford University.

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