How Would You Like Less Work For The Same Money?

Everyone would like to work less for the same money, and a test of how the idea works has just ended in Sweden.

Workers in the city of Gothenburg have trialled the idea for two years.

The council and other employers gave 70 nursing staff a chance to work six hour days instead of the usual eight hours.

Generously, they also pledged to keep salaries at the same rate, giving workers a win/win of less hours for the same pay.

The city council also hired 17 extra staff to cover the shortfall of hours.

The experiment cost the council around £1.1 million over the two years.

Too expensive

The data from the test is still going through number crunching, but the initial results suggest the measure was a success with the staff who had more time to spend with their families.

“Could we do this for the entire city? The answer is no, it will be too expensive,” said Daniel Bernmar, the councillor responsible for running Gothenburg’s elderly care.

“But the experiment still proved successful from many points of view by creating extra, reducing sick pay costs and fuelling a global debate about work culture.”

Although popular with the city council, businesses are less keen to shorten the working day because of the impact on productivity.

One firm tried and dumped the short week after a month after complaints from staff.

“It was stressful because workers did not have enough time in the day to carry out their tasks and felt isolated from the rest of the team,” said one businessman.

Improving work environments

“Problems were always building up and often no one was there to deal with them.”

But the researchers have a different take on the experiment.

“I don’t think people should start with the question of whether or not to have reduced hours.” said Bengt Lorentzon, one of the researchers.

“First, it should be what can we do to make the working environment better? And maybe different things can be better for different groups.

“It could be to do with working hours and working times, but it could be a lot of other things as well.”