Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

How the Six-Hour Workday Actually Saves Money (bloomberg.com) 177

An anonymous reader shares a report: In February, after almost two years worth of six-hour workdays, nurses at the Svartedalens elderly care facility in Gothenburg, Sweden went back to eight hour shifts -- despite recently published research showing the benefits of the shortened workdays. The City of Gothenburg didn't extend the experiment in part because funding ran out. It cost about 12 million krona ($1.3 million) to hire the 17 extra staff members needed to fill the gaps created by shorter work hours. The city had only budgeted for two years, and legislators said it would be too expensive to implement the project across the entire municipality. So, for now, the project has come to an end. Yet, there are longer term savings the study didn't take into account. Working shorter hours resulted in healthier workers, researcher Bengt Lorentzon found in a new paper. "They were less tired, less sick, had more energy coming home and more time to do activities," said Lorentzon. Specifically, the nurses took fewer sick days than they did when working longer, eight hour days. They also took fewer sick days than nurses in the control group. In fact, they took fewer sick days than nurses across the entire city of Gothenburg.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How the Six-Hour Workday Actually Saves Money

Comments Filter:
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:32PM (#54252709)

    Were those sick days saved enough to hire the extra nurses?

    Shees guise, why is it so hard to do math? You're sitting on the numbers. Do something useful already.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No hospital is really interested in the health of the nurse, nor do they have any interest in improving it. If an employee gets sick too much to their likings, they just fire the employee and look for a new one.
      It's not the companies where you should look for support.
      Experience shows that companies are only interested in slaves, working 24/7 if possible, to be replaced when they die from the abuse. As a result the unions came into being to organize the labour against the organized criminal cartel organizati

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zontar The Mindless ( 9002 ) <plasticfish...info@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 17, 2017 @09:24PM (#54253659) Homepage

        This isn't in the US. There are countries where governments regulate companies rather than the reverse. Sweden is one of them.

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @04:33AM (#54254845)

        If an employee gets sick too much to their likings, they just fire the employee and look for a new one.

        It costs up to 1 year of a typical employee's wage to replace them, on board them, train them, and integrate them into the local system. Your idiotic approach is based on very poor understanding of how much it costs to deal with people. Preventing people from getting sick is far cheaper and more effective than replacing sick people.

        This is also why my workplace provides a free doctor, physio, gym, and additional annual leave.

        • Your idiotic approach is based on very poor understanding of how much it costs to deal with people. Preventing people from getting sick is far cheaper and more effective than replacing sick people.

          Corporations, (and arguably, humans in general), tend to favour 'short term gain for long term pain' rather than the other way around.

          This is also why my workplace provides a free doctor, physio, gym, and additional annual leave.

          You are fortunate to work for a company with a modicum of foresight. However, if some new whizz-bang CEO came along with a (real or imagined) mandate to cut costs, I suspect those perqs you mentioned would be among the first things axed. Shareholders are much more impressed by year-over-year gains, (or even quarter-over-quarter), than they are by a five-year or ten-year forec

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Ironically at my last job, this exact thing was answered by my boss: "This is why you hire contractors. Firing one takes nothing. You tell the contract agency that you want the failed worker out, they get you another one. Total outlay I have as a manager? $0. It is up to the other people to get the new guy up to speed." Management doesn't really care about the cost of onboarding a new person, since it doesn't show up in the balance sheets.

          There is a reason why being an actual -employee- in the US is

          • If your manager was using contractors to replace staff he's equally foolish. A great part of the cost comes in integration into the workforce, something that you also lose with a contractor along with all the extra dollars you wouldn't have to pay for overhead.

            Contractors have a purpose. Short term work, projects, temporary staff increases. But substituting the standard recruiting process is not one of them. It's good to hear you say "last job". It doesn't sound like that place is nice to work for, or has a

        • If an employee gets sick too much to their likings, they just fire the employee and look for a new one.

          It costs up to 1 year of a typical employee's wage to replace them, on board them, train them, and integrate them into the local system. Your idiotic approach is based on very poor understanding of how much it costs to deal with people.

          He must be a manager.

      • This is a silly post. Some companies want lots of menial work out of their employees; some (especially those that need complex things done, like the duties nurses do) recognize that good performance can't be squeezed out all the time.

        And calling companies "criminal cartel organizations" is hysterical.
      • The nurses themselves are presumably interested in the health of the nurses.

        The rest is left as an exercise for the students of the land of Autodidactica.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The 4+ per cent fewer sick days are statistically insignificant and in no way make up for the 30+ per cent increase in salary costs, let alone benefits.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Studies show that of the average eight hour work day, only six hours are worked at most. This means, on average, 25% of the work day is wasted. Which is a 25% waste in labor costs. If a six hour work day results in six hours of productivity, that's a jump of 25%, resulting in a 25% labor savings. Suddenly the 30% vs 25% isn't so large. Especially if employees are costing you less in other areas.

        If someone came to you and said you can increase productivity 2% but it would cost you 25% more in labor costs, yo

        • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

          You could just as easily assume people would waste 25% of a 6 hour day too. Or even worse, 2 hours of a 6 hour day, making it 33%.

          I'm all for less time at work but saying that days could be shorter and then assuming 100% output is foolish.

          • I'm not sure about nursing (there's a physical component that probably makes the numbers different), but a large study of 'knowledge worker' jobs about a decade ago showed that productivity peaked at 20 hours a week, plateaued until 40, and then dropped off. After about 20 hours, concentration drops off and you work more slowly (and over prolonged periods this becomes your average), and you also start making more mistakes. After 40 hours, you're spending more time fixing the mistakes that you made than yo
            • by swb ( 14022 )

              The problem is even reduced productivity past 40 hours is basically free to the employer because they've already met their costs at that point, so your marginal output past 40 hours is now free to them.

              As you state, there's the risk of losses beyond some number, but up to that number even the reduced output is worthwhile to them.

              • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

                by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:45AM (#54255339) Journal

                The problem is even reduced productivity past 40 hours is basically free to the employer because they've already met their costs at that point, so your marginal output past 40 hours is now free to them.

                Maybe you've already worked more than 40 hours recently, because you've misunderstood what I said: after 40 hours, each hour that you work has a net negative impact on your productivity. i.e. you accomplish less working 45 hours than working 40, because you spend more time fixing the errors that you made than you spend working productively. Your marginal output is negative, so it doesn't matter to your employer that they're not having to pay anything for it. If you work 45 hours, but spend 10 of those fixing mistakes that you made because you weren't concentrating well, then it doesn't matter to your employer if your costs are the same as someone working 40 hours: if they only spend 4 hours fixing mistakes then you're not cheaper.

                • To add to this, one way to look at this is as a recurring prisoner's dilemma game. If it's a one-time only game, then making workers work harder might be ok because of potential net positive marginal utility. i.e., 40 hours of good work, and then successively reducing marginal productivity. But in any recurring scenario it creates cascading negative effects.

                • by swb ( 14022 )

                  I agree with that assessment for arbitrary work weeks of 50+ hours, but I also don't think that 40 hours is somehow the magical number for everyone.

                  The point of net negative returns -- not just diminished returns -- isn't the same for every individual and it's probably some number beyond 50 hours, even, as it kind of assumes 40 hours of breathless, nose-to-the-grindstone work, which in most generic office environments isn't even remotely the case.

                  I'd also guess that if marginally longer work weeks were real

          • I'm all for less time at work but saying that days could be shorter and then assuming 100% output is foolish.
            Actually it is not.
            There is a reason why shifts on ships are 4h and not 8h since centuries.
            I rarely meet a software developer that can focus more than 3 or 4 hours a day. The rest of their 'shift' they do nothing any way, or worse: produce bugs, spoil the repository with faulty commits, or spoil requirements with stupid comments because they are to tired/exhausted to comprehend them.
            A normal human be

      • by Anonymous Coward

        We are talking about government (and of the big type), not a corporation.

        You are right that the savings for the hospital did not outweigh the increased salary cost. But governments tend to work with the bigger picture, and will consider things like:

        * Unemployment? Better having a population work 6 hours, than having some working 8 hours and some wasting away unemployed. (The unemployed's skills rot with time, and so do morale. Over time, welfare cheaters are created, and some dabble in crime. Or even vote f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, they work them harder for less money. My GF is stuck in this hell. She now work six days a week instead of five since she works less hours each day. Officially this is not supposed to be happening but they do not have enough nurses so she has to work more days to cover up for the ten hours less she works each week... She still get the same pay though and often its 3h six hour break and then 3h more so she has to travel to work twice a day on some days.

  • Working shorter hours resulted in healthier workers, researcher Bengt Lorentzon found in a new paper. "They were less tired, less sick, had more energy coming home and more time to do activities," ...

    ... but it assumes that companies actually care about their employees.

    • by kaka.mala.vachva ( 1164605 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:42PM (#54252755)
      Companies needn't care about employees to see the potential in this. If the amount of money the company saves out in terms of sick leave, insurance premiums is more than the amount of money needed to hire more workers and reduce the length of the workday, this may make sense anyway.
      • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
        Would work if the insurance companies gave discounts for such things.
        • by kaka.mala.vachva ( 1164605 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:52PM (#54252807)
          Insurance premiums are a factor of how many insurance claims are made. If the number of claims made goes down, premiums will also go down.
          • On what planet does that happen? Normally premiums and interest rates are quite arbitrary, set by market manipulators.

            • by murdocj ( 543661 )

              Companies actually have a lot of choices in insurance, and negotiating power. So no, the plans are not "arbitrary".

            • On the "planet" (aka country) that has single payer which would effectively lead to a reduction in tax collection if all of the people suddenly began living healthier lives.

              Of course, there would be job losses in the health industry; which would likely be counteracted by the need to hire more workers due to shorter working hours.

              I mean, do people not understand the point of anything? What is the point of a successful economy if the workers are being overworked, stressed out, underpaid, etc... If we're mak

              • Why is it such a taboo to pass on some of those benefits to workers?

                Because greed is good, capitalism is best, and if you're pathetic enough to be a peasant then who cares what the quality of your life is. Just work until you can't anymore, then kindly die because then you're just a leech that feels entitled to a retirement and free stuff. Profit is meant to be privatized and costs socialized, not the other way around. If you don't like that, then you should relocate to Venezuela because you obviously hate

            • Insurance is a risk-transfer system with premiums set by risk factorization. Frequently, insurance companies take in less money than they pay out, making their profits from interest and investment incomes on their cash holdings. For a while, Progressive took in 98 cents for every $1 it paid to auto insurance claims, and made roughly 8 cents per 98 cents it took in, giving them a 6% gross operating profit. Slim, but doable.

          • Only if the insurance company chooses to pass on the savings.
            • Only if the insurance company chooses to pass on the savings.

              No, only if they are allowed to actually compete with each other for your business.

              • What makes you think they want to compete?

                • Does anybody want to have to compete? Some do, but most people are lazy and want stuff for free, including customers. The government should be out of that loop. Lacking the ACA's forcing me to do business with my choice of two vendors who are themselves forced to replicate their businesses and all of their overhead in fifty different states, that should all be torn down.
          • This is a city in Sweden, so it's safe to assume that health insurance comes from the national health insurance program, the city would not be buying private coverage for their employees. Thus, even if it the 6 hour days save money overall for the government at all levels, it costs the city money they don't have.

            • by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <schulz@eprover.org> on Monday April 17, 2017 @07:58PM (#54253233) Homepage

              This is a city in Sweden, so it's safe to assume that health insurance comes from the national health insurance program, the city would not be buying private coverage for their employees. Thus, even if it the 6 hour days save money overall for the government at all levels, it costs the city money they don't have.

              This is only half correct. First, in Sweden, employees salaries are paid by the employer (i.e. the city) for the first 14 days of every sickness period. Secondly, while Sweden has a national health care system, it's largely financed on the local level and by local taxes.

          • Insurance premiums are a factor of how many insurance claims are made. If the number of claims made goes down, premiums will also go down.

            Are you serious? Why does my insurance premium go up bit by bit every year even though I have never made a claim since I have had the policies with them (for 5+ years now)? Oh wait, I am getting older... That's how insurance company gave me the excuse of why the cost is going up. They always have a way to explain (excuse) what they are doing...

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        I really, really do not understand what you are trying to say. Who gives a crap about whether or not companies care about workers, that's what unions are for. Workers caring about workers, if it makes sense for workers, they form a union and force the sensible requirement, end of story. Bosses when left out of control with ruthlessly exploit workers, even when it results in losses because it feeds their egos. Don't thinks so, then what about all the sexual harrasment cases, where bosses target workers, in a

      • Indeed. However this seemingly doesn't apply to the average 9-5, err 10-4?, Day. For A 24/7 shift cycle certainly makes sense, but not when you have just one shift. How do you divide this across 5 8 hour days?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If shortening the workday to six hours saves money, just think how much would be saved by shortening it to four hours!
  • Fewer "Sick Days" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:46PM (#54252773)

    I'm guessing they took fewer sick days, not because they were healthier, but because they now actually had time to run errands at places that are only open while they're normally at work. Don't need to take any "sick" days to get shit done.

    • Maybe they took fewer sick days because they were always behind at work?

      • It's an elderly care facility. The patients are ALWAYS there, and they ALWAYS need care. How do you "get behind"? It's not like they have a quota to assemble car transmissions.
        • Paperwork. It can easily slip when the workload rises due to a coworker having a sick day.

        • Also why this was a very odd test. This is the type of workplace where you absolutely need a certain number of workers on staff at all times. It has much less to do about individual staff efficiency. Now, if this were an office job, where a drop in work hours lead to an increase in efficiency per hour worked which counteracted the need to hire more workers, then you would have probably have seen a much smaller increase in total wages paid out (if any at all).

          The fact is, when you have to be at work for 8

          • All jobs are like that. If you want to make a table, you need to invest a certain amount of labor-time using current technology to make a table. There's no way around that; there's only the capacity to schedule when the factory runs and how much output it has.

            As consequence, if you hire people for work days 75% as long, one of two things happens: those people have 75% as much income or prices of the service provided goes up by 1/3. These are actually equivalent in terms of how wealthy the worker beco

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I'm guessing they took fewer sick days, not because they were healthier, but because they now actually had time to run errands at places that are only open while they're normally at work. Don't need to take any "sick" days to get shit done.

      Nurses typically work shifts, several days a week they come off the night shift or start the evening shift. Being able to run errands in regular business hours is the least of their concerns, in fact most will wish they could work more then and less evenings/nights. And Easter, Christmas, New Year's Eve and all the other days most people take for granted will be time off.

      P.S. If you're a developer and work for a company that won't let you flex a couple hours with no meetings in exchange for an early morning

      • Exactly this. Nurses don't need sick days to get stuff done during normal business hours. I've known nurses that work 12 hour shifts 3 days a week, leaving the other 4 to do whatever they need to do. Play with the kids, get groceries, etc...

        Now, having those nurses work 6 hour days? You're talking double the staff. If they did that, I'm sure salaries would go down. Then we have a whole different problem.

    • Or work makes you sick.
  • My employment contracts for 10+ years have prohibited me from working more than 40 hours per week or outside regular business hours. That's for IT support. Prior to that I worked 60+ hours a week as a video game tester.
  • by seniorcoder ( 586717 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:58PM (#54252851)
    Extrapolation of these results predicts that employees who work a 0 hour week will never take any sick days and will be extremely happy.
    As a person in retirement, I can vouch for these results.
  • A. Tell me about the time they had to do laundry, clean the house, shop for food etc.. Tend to their personal needs: Haircuts, trim nails, go to doctors, etc.. All in one day eh? Time to relax.. none.. B. Also, the more days people work, equals less of a chance other people will get a job.
  • How amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @07:05PM (#54252889)

    Their plan saved money - but they couldn't afford it, so went back to the "more expensive" ways.
    Sure, they took fewer sick days. How many fewer? 4.7% fewer.
    And they had to hire 17 new nurses to cover for the shortened shifts. Considering there were only 70 nurses originally, that's a 25% increase in costs for a savings of 4.7%.

    Whee.

    This is not cost effective because it COSTS MORE MONEY. It provides very little by way of tangible benefits - notice that there was no report that the workers are actually healthier, just that they are less likely to phone in sick (they want to continue the study for another 10-15 years because they are sure that eventually some health benefits will show up). However, it increases costs by at least 25%.

    The headline is a lie; it ain't financially worth it. If a company wants to spend more money making their employees happy, more power to 'em. But stop pretending that there's a mystical "savings!" offsetting the costs anywhere. It just doesn't exist.

  • From TFA:

    Overall, they took 4.7 percent fewer sick days over the period of the experiment

    So, assuming a 24 hour day, they increased their base payroll cost by 33% while saving 4.7% on sick days. While I would certainly rather work fewer hours, this experiment actually shows that it doesn't come anywhere close to saving money for the facility or even breaking even.

    • I'm guessing that saving 4.7% on sick days does not translate to just 4.7% saving in payroll expenses. Imagine all employees so sick they are taking 50% days off. Depending on the exact pattern, it stands to reason that when they are not out sick they are not terribly productive either, being just barely well enough they can show up at work and be miserable.

      And vice versa, employees taking 0% sick days might be so full of energy, healthy and enthusiastic that they are productive all the time. And that would

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Of course, you also have to look at productivity. In many places the last hour or two of any given shift are basically spent running the clock out. In many cases, even if the workers don't intend to do that. They've simply run out of productive energy. If, instead, you're running 4 shifts you may well get 33% more work done.

  • .. at-least not according to the fucking summary.

    The headline claims it did but the summary say they couldn't afford to keep on doing it and then mention some benefits which .. it would seem wasn't enough to compensate for the 25% loss of work-time.

    So... Why the stupid headline? Because it's sensational even though wrong?
    Alternative fact?
    Maybe Bloomberg hold the same quality as Swedish main-stream media and go with the no-work-worker political-view of it all; no work but all benefits of work for everyone!

  • The sick days part may be a red herring depending on how they're handled in the company. If you have a company where fucks arn't given either way, and an employee has no incentive to *not* call in sick, then that's not going to mean much. What an employee does at home isn't the company's concern (unless you do something so profoundly embarrassing that their reputation is threatened just by association).

    The real question is... What about overall productivity? It's clearly more expensive because, at least

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @07:21PM (#54253009)
    The original reason was to beat rush hour traffic. Now that rush hour starts at 6 AM it's kinda moot.

    But I find most people don't show up until 9. So by getting there at 7 AM I get 3/4 of my work done in those 2 hours. After that it's meetings, random BS with co-workers (water cooler talk), and dealing with micro-managing PHBs.

    It's annoying a lot of people think I'm a slacker for leaving at 3:30, but hey, I've done my 8 and I'm out.

    Leaving at 1:30 would make my life a whole lot better, with pretty much 0 impact on my productivity. Hell, I'd skip lunch for those hours.
    • Hell, I'd skip lunch for those hours.

      Skipping lunch is actually a nice perk many people don't get. Can eat a sandwich or something on the go without needing to waste a whole hour of unpaid time.

      I do it most days.

  • 4 day work week, no change in hours worked. Commute time reduced 20%. One whole additional day to do errands, etc.. Disadvantage: more difficult to arrange for child care in families with no spare adult.
    • I can't be productive for an eight-hour day, most of the time. Adding two hours to the day won't get all that much more useful work out of me, while losing a workday will cut out 4-6 productive hours from my week.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you born as Japanese, you have to work 8hours(base)+3~7hours(overwork without pay), 6 days per week.
    While other countries' visa requirement are hard to pass, most of us are stuck here to become a "robot" for employer.

  • What is this 6 or 8 day nursing workday? Everywhere here is forced *12* hour workdays for nursing and nursing assistant staff. Makes for LONG days, and worn-out staff. But guarantees overtime and more days off. It is also FAR easier for management to perform staffing (requires fewer people, less slots to fill, fewer people to hire/train/inservice/license/review).

    One needs to also remember that this is not like office work. Healthcare facilities are 24x7. 8 hour healthcare shifts are typically 7-3, 3-1

    • The one time I don't want people overworked are my health care peeps. When my dad is in bad shape I want you to be well rested, as well as the docs who figure out what's going on. The one thing I don't want is some doc kept awake for 24+ hours coming in to figure out why dad is incoherent and shitting the bed.

      Wanna pull overnighter fixing a snapchat bug? Go for it. Overnighter figuring out Facebook so folks can't real time shoot people in the face? Go for it. Figure out why dad is in such bad shape
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why should society [that is you and me for those of you born into a socialist state] bear the cost of paying nurses for 8 hours of work, when they're only on the clock for 6 hours?

    Why not doctors? Or janitors? Or dare I say, programmers?!

    The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money...

    • I urge you to bring this up the next time you are hospitalized. I'm sure the nurses caring for you will appreciate your opinion.

  • by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @08:29PM (#54253359)
    What the fuck is so hard about maths, according to the article and summary it DIDN'T save money at all, it cost a shitload of money, yes it had some health and few sick day benefits but these did not offset the actual cost of hiring the extra staff.
    • What the fuck is so hard about maths,

      I requires people to think logically, ignoring their preconceptions. I get it, those of us who understand math have issues understanding those who don't.

    • Math, not maths. Also, reading is pronounced reading, not redding.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What about general economic effects this has. When more people are required to be hired, unemployment falls. This spreads the wealth to a greater population causing those people to also spend more. Also when people have more time off, they normally spend money on entertainment... Think about it, what do most people do on the weekends... They take their dates to the movies, buy video games, go to parks, buy food, spend money.

    If anything; a mandate saying that all employees only work 32 hrs a week would save

  • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:45AM (#54254389)
    ...it couldn't pay for itself. If this was actually saving money they'd still be doing it. BeauHD lets some of the most retarded shit through.
  • I will be out of the office this week.
  • It's NOT the governments business to control how businesses work. THAT is up to the business. If they overwork their employees. they won't be able to fill the jobs.
  • My previous job was working in a major US office for a European company. I still have some grudges against my former employer so I don't like to name them or the country they operated out of because I don't want to take the chance of them getting any publicity. They have major sales problems in North America because nobody has ever heard of them and frankly, they deserve it. However, I will say that the country our HQ operated in was rather infamous for having 7 hour work days so you can probably make
  • They ran out of subsidies to continue a pilot program that allegedly "saves money"? Makes sense.

  • golly gee - some touchy-feely money was saved? Or was real money saved?

    If you can't put it into numbers - it didn't happen. I'm pretty sure that's like totally a rule of science.

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

Working...