Analysis: I’m a boss and I say we should work less

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Bad jobs led to millions of people leaving the workforce, creating the seemingly perpetual labor shortage that has become the bane of hiring managers’ existence. During the Great Resignation, a record number of Americans quit their jobs due to burnout, low wages, childcare, aged care… you name it.

To lure people back into the labor market, employers have raised wages. But inflation has wiped that out and then some, so that hasn’t worked. Bosses have made some of us work from home, but that’s a benefit many offices are calling back on as people become less Covid anxious.

So here’s a crazy solution: make people work less. I know, it sounds radical. But it turns out that employees really like the idea, AND they’re more productive.

Over the past eight weeks, thousands of people in the UK have tested a four-day schedule – with no pay cut, reports my colleague Anna Cooban. It is the world’s largest trial of a four-day workweek to date. Unsurprisingly, some employees have said they feel happier, healthier, and do better at their jobs.
During similar trials between 2015 and 2019 in Iceland, there was no drop in productivity among four-day workers – and a dramatic increase in workers’ well-being. When Microsoft tried a shorter workweek in Japan in 2019, productivity was found to increase by almost 40%.

So who do we have to fight to get a three day weekend here? It turns out that the answer may be slowness.

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2030 we would have 15-hour weeks, with office hours decreasing over time. But the 40-hour workweek has been hard-fought by unions across America, and it just kind of… stalled. A 9-5 Monday-Friday shift became the norm, and over time it became difficult for businesses and employees to think differently.

You can give your boss all the data you want, but you’re unlikely to have much success convincing management that the way to increase productivity and solve the labor shortage is to give everyone Friday off forever. .

MY TAKE: As a relatively accessible people manager, I understand both sides.

Allison (as you know) is a staunch advocate for a four-day work week, and if I had the power I’d make it happen for her. And with never-ending, constant meetings that could have been emails, combined with a 3:00 p.m. zone-out time and catching up on “The Bachelor” with work friends, I’m sure that over the course of my week has turned into a full day will lead where my productivity is basically zero. I’d like to cut that out to spend more time with my family or whatever.

But – and listen to this – what if we just started improving the work? I’m not just saying this because my bosses are reading this (hello bosses!), but work should be a fulfilling endeavor where we feel like we’re accomplishing something important and meaningful in our lives. Whether it’s saving the planet or cleaning toilets, there’s work to be done. And good companies need to provide a positive environment for employees to grow and feel that they are doing something worthwhile.

Instead, all too often companies put idiots like me in charge because they don’t know what else to do with people, so they make them managers. Anyway, this was fun, but let’s get back to work, Allison! Those stories are not going to write themselves.

NUMBER OF THE DAY: 53.6 million

That’s the number of tons of electronic junk the world threw away in 2019, according to the most recent data from the United Nations. Only 17.4% of this was recycled, reports my colleague Catherine Thorbecke.

A KIND OF MEOW MIX-UP

Cat food is dirty. It smells weird, it’s too greasy and, let’s face it, it looks like something that should come out – not in.

But for some wicked reason, Purina is opening a cat food-inspired restaurant for people in New York this month.

The dishes from Gatto Bianco, Purina’s pop-up Italian-style trattoria, are said to be inspired by Fancy Feast’s new “Medleys” cat food line. Medleys include options such as “beef ragú with tomatoes and pasta in a savory sauce,” which, as my colleague Zoe Sottile noted, is designed for the cat with discerning tastes.

Just a note about fancy cat food: My cats routinely drank from the toilet, licked their anus in public, and left dead rodents on the bed, so these aren’t exactly college graduates. I’m all for keeping your kitty healthy, but “beef and pork Milanese with potatoes and carrots in savory juices” seems to be getting lost in the public eye.

I get what Purina is trying to do here: it’s a meal so delicious, even you would eat it! But there’s a reason I feed my pets (relatively) cheap canned food: because they’re animals, and I’ve seen them eat a literally dead squirrel carcass and behave happier than anything I’ve ever fed them.

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