Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Greece adopts six-day work week to boost productivity. Experts are skeptical.


While the four-day work week has gained momentum in many European countries and even some American companies, Greece is moving in the opposite direction.

The country’s new legislation, which came into effect this week, introduces a six-day working week for 24-hour businesses in a bid to boost productivity. Workers will have the option to work up to 48 hours a week, and those who work the extra day will receive a weekly pay rise of £12,000. Get a 40 percent increase in overtime pay..

The news runs counter to the trend toward a four-day workweek, which research has shown benefits productivity, employee well-being, and employee satisfaction. The Greek government says the move will help address labor shortages, ensure workers are paid for overtime, and address tax evasion issues related to undeclared work. But labor advocates say the new Greek legislation may not have the desired effect, instead causing unintended consequences such as higher turnover. fatigue, illness and even death.

“It definitely seems like a step in the wrong direction and shortsighted,” said Malissa Clark, director of the University of Georgia’s Healthy Work Lab, which studies work-life balance. “We know that long work hours are bad for employees’ health.”

In the United States, 77 percent of workers believe a four-day, 40-hour workweek would have a very or somewhat positive impact on their well-being, according to Latest Gallup PollU.S. companies that have tried or adopted shortened work weeks say they have seen the benefits.

In many parts of Asia and other developing countries, a six-day work week is routine. But globally, more countries are also considering reducing working hours. France is among the latest countries to experiment with a four-day work week, while Belgium became the first to officially approve a shortened work week in 2022. Other countries that have been experimenting with a four-day work week include Iceland, Japan and South Africa.

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But obstacles to widespread adoption of the shorter work week remain, with many fearing staffing issues, potential productivity declines, increased costs, and complex process changes.

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Greece’s move runs counter to a wealth of research that shows that longer work hours hurt productivity rather than boosting it, said Brigid Schulte, director of the work-family equity program at New America, a think tank. Instead, longer hours often lead to workers making more mistakes, slowing down on tasks, and suffering from burnout, stress and illness.

“The proof will be in the evidence,” Schulte said. “If Greece suddenly turns its economy around, people might reconsider. But I don’t think that will happen.”

Schulte also said policies like these often hurt caregivers and women, which then leads to less diversity among employees and leaders and increases the gender pay gap.

Greek legislation opens the door to allowing people to work 48 hours a week, but does not require it. EU law requires employers to ensure their employees do not exceed an average of 48 hours a week, including overtime. But Clarke says Greek legislation only creates a sense of choice because higher wages encourage people to work longer.

“You’re making it hard to shift.” [the pay] “Also,” she replied, “what will be the standards and expectations in the organization?”

While Greece is bucking the trend and adoption of a shorter work week has been slow, Schulte and Clark say future trends are likely to point to fewer hours versus longer ones. They expect companies to continue learning how to make their operations more efficient, leverage technology, and discover the benefits to workers and profits.

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“It’s like a mission of organizational excellence in disguise,” Schulte said. “Reducing working hours is better for business, for people and for the economy, if done right.”

What do you think of the work week? Tell me on [email protected].

Rainerio Manuel
Rainerio Manuel

"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."