What genius thought of the 40-hour workweek? Actually, it was Henry Ford, and he did it in response to labor’s dissatisfaction with a six-day, nine-hours-a-day workweek, which makes him quite innovative for his time. Today, however, Americans work on average 260 more hours per year than British workers, 499 more hours per year than French workers, and even 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, who are known for working long hours.
Are you contemplating offering your staff shorter work hours or a shortened workweek for the summer? According to a report by CNN, small businesses are more likely to offer a flexible workweek for a variety of reasons. Obviously, you need to make sure the new schedule works for your business model and customers, but here are some reasons you might consider it:
- Summer is your slowest month. If you know work slows down during the summer months, why not save money on utilities by cutting summer work hours? With energy costs constantly on the rise, you could save a bundle by just turning off the computers and lights and letting people leave early for the day.
- More hours does not equal more productivity. Studies show it’s actually engagement that leads to increased productivity, and employees feel more engaged when they are able to “recover” from work stress with time off. Plus, when hours are shorter, employees tend to work faster and focus more to get the work done in the hours provided.
- It helps with employee retention. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that has shorter summer hours? And if your company also pays competitive rates, employee loyalty is almost guaranteed.
- Millennials will love it. Because Gen Y (born between 1982 and 2000) is the biggest American generation ever (83.1 million), your small business is most likely hiring a few. According to a new report from Ernst & Young’s Global Generations research, the most important factor millennial workers consider when taking and staying at a job is a flexible work schedule that enables good work-life balance.
- You deserve a break, too. Shorter summer hours aren’t just for your employees. If you can spare the time, take shorter summer hours yourself so you can relax, rejuvenate, and clear your head. After all, great ideas are more likely to strike when your head is not filled with the million day-to-day details of running a business. Need more convincing? Read "Why Your Business Needs You to Take a Break."
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.