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Business
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Title: Efficiency up, turnover down: Sweden experiments with six-hour working day
Source: Guardian
URL Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/20 ... ents-with-six-hour-working-day
Published: Sep 17, 2015
Author: David Crouch
Post Date: 2015-09-17 16:14:06 by A Pole
Keywords: work, slavery, justice
Views: 2830
Comments: 18

A Swedish retirement home may seem an unlikely setting for an experiment about the future of work, but a small group of elderly-care nurses in Sweden have made radical changes to their daily lives in an effort to improve quality and efficiency.

In February the nurses switched from an eight-hour to a six-hour working day for the same wage – the first controlled trial of shorter hours since a rightward political shift in Sweden a decade ago snuffed out earlier efforts to explore alternatives to the traditional working week.

“I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa,” says Lise-Lotte Pettersson, 41, an assistant nurse at Svartedalens care home in Gothenburg. “But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life.”

The Svartedalens experiment is inspiring others around Sweden: at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital, orthopaedic surgery has moved to a six-hour day, as have doctors and nurses in two hospital departments in Umeå to the north. And the trend is not confined to the public sector: small businesses claim that a shorter day can increase productivity while reducing staff turnover.

At Svartedalens, the trial is viewed as a success, even if, with an extra 14 members of staff hired to cope with the shorter hours and new shift patterns, it is costing the council money. Ann-Charlotte Dahlbom Larsson, head of elderly care at the home, says staff wellbeing is better and the standard of care is even higher.

“Since the 1990s we have had more work and fewer people – we can’t do it any more,” she says. “There is a lot of illness and depression among staff in the care sector because of exhaustion – the lack of balance between work and life is not good for anyone.”

Pettersson, one of 82 nurses at Svartedalens, agrees. Caring for elderly people, some of whom have dementia, demands constant vigilance and creativity, and with a six-hour day she can sustain a higher standard of care. “You cannot allow elderly people to become stressed, otherwise it turns into a bad day for everyone,” she says.

After a century in which working hours were gradually reduced, holidays increased and retirement reached earlier, there has been an increase in hours worked for the first time in history, says Roland Paulsen, a researcher in business administration at the University of Lund. People are working harder and longer, he says – but this is not necessarily for the best.

“For a long time politicians have been competing to say we must create more jobs with longer hours – work has become an end in itself,” he says. “But productivity has doubled since the 1970s, so technically we even have the potential for a four-hour working day. It is a question of how these productivity gains are distributed. It did not used to be utopian to cut working hours – we have done this before.”

At Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, working hours have been shorter for more than a decade. Employees moved to a six-hour day 13 years ago and have never looked back. Customers were unhappy with long waiting times, while staff were stressed and making mistakes, according to Martin Banck, the managing director, whose idea it was to cut the time worked by his mechanics. From a 7am to 4pm working day the service centre switched to two six-hour shifts with full pay, one starting at 6am and the other at noon, with fewer and shorter breaks. There are 36 mechanics on the scheme.

“Staff feel better, there is low turnover and it is easier to recruit new people,” Banck says. “They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines and lower capital costs – everyone is happy.” Profits have risen by 25%, he adds.

[...]

For Maria Bråth, boss of internet startup Brath, the six-hour working day the company introduced when it was formed three years ago gives it a competitive advantage because it attracts better staff and keeps them. “They are the most valuable thing we have,” she says – an offer of more pay elsewhere would not make up for the shorter hours they have at Brath.

The company, which has 22 staff in offices in Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik, produces as much, if not more, than its competitors do in eight-hour days, she says. “It has a lot to do with the fact that we are very creative – we couldn’t keep it up for eight hours.”

[...]

The 1990s saw several experiments with the six-hour day for a full wage in Sweden. In Kiruna, a mining town in the far north, home care for the elderly moved to a six-hour day in 1989 so the working lives of female carers would better correlate with those of their husbands in the mines. Stockholm city council conducted a major trial of a six-hour day in care centres for children, older people and those with disabilities from 1996 to 1998.

But when power passed from left to right in Kiruna in 2005, the reform was reversed and staff went back to eight hours. Similarly, with a change of administration in Stockholm the trial came to an end.

“It was a political decision to end it, they said it was too expensive,” says Prof Birgitta Olsson of Lund University, who was involved in research to evaluate the Stockholm experiment. “But it was a good investment in improved wellbeing for the community. More people were in jobs, they were in better health and enjoyed better working conditions.”

[...]

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#1. To: Willie Green, Vicomte13, TooConservative, sneakypete, tpaine, Pericles (#0)

When Henry Ford decided to pay his workers decently it evoked deluge of rage and hatred from the free market cult. Yet he succeeded.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-17   16:16:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: A Pole, Y'ALL (#1)

I have no problem with a six hour day. -- In fact the last house I built that was about all I could do, --- and I sure as hell didn't get much more productive work our of the guys I hired, either..

tpaine  posted on  2015-09-17   17:06:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: tpaine, Willie Green, Vicomte13, TooConservative, sneakypete, Pericles (#2)

Since there are tens of millions people out of job market who consume goods that are produced by others who are overworked, would it not be a happier and more prosperous society if the workload was more fairly distributed?

"Free market" is efficient in minimizing cost, but treats labor as a commodity that should be reduced to the minimal ie subsistence level. But labor are human sweat and life and a human system should have happiness of human beings as a main objective. Not the maximum profit for the few job slave creators for whom this profit does not bring happiness either, only an opportunity to play at self-destructive financial casino.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-17   17:52:37 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: A Pole (#3) (Edited)

Since there are tens of millions people out of job market who consume goods that are produced by others who are overworked, would it not be a happier and more prosperous society if the workload was more fairly distributed?

A magnificent verbally abstract recipe for the new presentation of Marxism. Specific concrete implementation will be predictably impossible.

rlk  posted on  2015-09-17   18:10:33 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: rlk (#4)

A magnificent verbally abstract recipe for the new presentation of Marxism.

Let me parse it:

It is like Marxism.

Marxism is false on all points.

So it is false.

OK, second premise is false. And Marxism insists that private ownership of means of production must be abolished - I did not say it.

Specific concrete implementation will be predictably impossible.

Let me parse it:

The present system as it is in our days is the only possible system. Or perhaps the best of all possible systems as Leibniz could say.

So any proposal of a different arrangement is either impossible or would lead to the worse system.

Well, the premise would have to be proven or you assertion remains unfounded

Unless what Rush Limbaugh and his ilk says is a revealed infallible Word of God. Then people should work more than 6 hours a day, preferably labor laws should be abolished so workers works all their waking time and their children too, as they did in Dickens time. Otherwise we would would fall into wicked heresy of Marxism.

"Your tender years," "hardly make it possible that you should understand the economic problem involved. I have statistics, I have graphs, I have – " "that would be putting the clock back," "Have you no idea of progress, of development?" (His Sufficiency Governor Gumbas)

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-17   19:08:58 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: A Pole (#0)

Sweden will be on the decline along with France. It will catch up to them in time. Work longer before retiring or companies will start to leave for better lands. I know one thing it will end the small to mid size business. Then you would unofficially a communist/fascist state.

The only way 6 hr days can work is if its a straight shift no breaks including lunch[Better hope don't have to go to the bathroom ;)]. Because effectively thats almost what an 8 hr work day with all the breaks[1-2hrs depending were you work] would be.

I wonder if I could migrate back to the socialist states of Europe? Work 6hrs. Can't be fired unless I speak out against diversity or the perversion of homosexual lifestyle.

Justified  posted on  2015-09-17   19:42:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: A Pole (#3)

Since there are tens of millions people out of job market who consume goods that are produced by others who are overworked, would it not be a happier and more prosperous society if the workload was more fairly distributed?

Yes everyone could be out of work! They could just print money and hand everyone a paycheck to buy goods from other product countries who are stupid enough to take worthless paper for goods and services.

You want to make it fair to workers stop immigration and give no one any subsidies. That will force everyone to work. Then tax incomes/wages/wealth over 10 times average pay at a 100% from there with zero deductions. That will make it a middle class paradise. Never happen because lazy saps, feel good people[include religious saps] and rich want subsidies.

Justified  posted on  2015-09-17   19:51:31 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Justified (#6)

I wonder if I could migrate back to the socialist states of Europe? Work 6hrs. Can't be fired 

Don't go there. It is a living hell, impoverished.

Better go to a Third World country with child labor, unlimited work week and no traces of Socialist virus.

Economy 101! Hail Rush!

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-18   2:46:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: A Pole (#8)

Don't go there. It is a living hell, impoverished.

It will be if they keep up their crazy ways. You can't party your way to prosperity. Dues will come and wealth will be taken.

Socialism is a disease caused by lazy people who want others to pay their way.

Justified  posted on  2015-09-18   8:33:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Justified (#9)

"Don't go there. It is a living hell, impoverished."

It will be if they keep up their crazy ways.

Somehow they were catching up despite their "crazy ways". For example Italy and Ireland were much much poorer than USA decades ago. Not any more.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-18   9:54:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: A Pole (#5)

A magnificent verbally abstract recipe for the new presentation of Marxism.

Let me parse it:

It is like Marxism.

Marxism is false on all points.

So it is false.

OK, second premise is false. And Marxism insists that private ownership of means of production must be abolished - I did not say it.

Let me parse you parsing.

What you stated was in line with critical theory theorized by Lucaks and Gramsci in the early '20s that was designed to produce popular weakness in belief in non-communist systems with ultimate substute of communism or socialism as a substitute. In your case the criticism was based on a little kid's fantasy about the way things are and the way they should be to caste doubt upon the economic system that has produced more benefit and opportunity for the common people than any other in world history.

rlk  posted on  2015-09-18   12:24:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: rlk (#11)

What you stated was in line with critical theory theorized by Lucaks and Gramsci  

Again:

Gramsci and Lucaks were completely wrong.

A statement agrees with Lucaks and Gramsci.

So a statement is wrong.

And the Earth is not round.

BTW point me the quote from Gramsci that says what I said.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-18   15:48:49 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: A Pole (#12)

Gramsci and Lucaks were completely wrong.

Gramsci and Lucaks were correct in their strategy. It's been highly effective in producing a disintegration of belief in, and adherence to, the principle structures of Western civilization (and particularly American civilization) using the principles of attitude change combined with repetition over decades. Attitude change mechanics are effective regardless of whether the direction they are oriented toward conflicts with reality. Gramsci and Lucaks were completely wrong in the goal they were oriented toward, but it made no difference in the effectiveness of their technique.

You are carrying their ball very nicely.

rlk  posted on  2015-09-18   16:28:01 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: rlk (#13) (Edited)

Labor laws started to be introduced BEFORE Gramsci and Lucaks.

So it is a Red Herring diversion.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-18   17:11:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: A Pole (#14)

Labor laws started to be introduced BEFORE Gramsci and Lucaks.

So it is a Red Herring diversion.

A Red Herring diversion? You're changing the subject.

rlk  posted on  2015-09-18   20:59:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: rlk (#15) (Edited)

A Red Herring diversion? You're changing the subject.

The subject is "Sweden experiments with six-hour working day "

And you brought Gramsci and Lukacs. Next it will be Pol Pot and Jeffrey Dahmer.

BTW, Puritans wanted people to rest on Sundays, were they followers of Gramsci and Lukacs too?

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-19   2:27:39 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#17. To: A Pole (#10)

Somehow they were catching up despite their "crazy ways". For example Italy and Ireland were much much poorer than USA decades ago. Not any more.

What you mean is US has gone down hill and that even these countries are starting to look good?

America has been going down hill in a major way since LBJ and the great society crap.

America is running with only 50% of the people actually working who could work. These people are supporting the other 50% plus the whole damn world. I defy any EU countries to do that!

Justified  posted on  2015-09-19   9:58:25 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#18. To: Justified (#17)

America has been going down hill in a major way since LBJ and the great society crap.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But this is about Sweden and general question what is the optimal amount of work hours in a advanced modern society with automatization and little farming.

Gramsci, LBJ or Puritans were long time ago. You cannot live in the past.

A Pole  posted on  2015-09-19   12:40:37 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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