The debate on whether to leave the 40-hour work week traps a good percentage of the US citizens considering its weight. The opinions are primarily dependent on the position of an individual in the workforce as well as other personal characters. The employers are looking at it in terms of how much production they will add by increasing the number of hours their employees work. This calculation is very smart because for every seven workers per week, there will be an additional one worker. Their interpretation of gains from the abandonment is very subjective as they fail to look at the negative effect of time on production and other issues. On the other hand, the permanent employees are looking at it in terms of how the employers will increase their labor without a pay rise. However, they also do not see more challenges apart from expanded hours which would make them make strong rejection on the abandonment. There are more than shallow arguments when people decide to consider human life in the debate. Work is good but also time out of work is equally good for social development, and therefore the US should not abandon the 40-hour workweek.
Abandoning the 40-hour work will reduce sales for most companies and therefore increase the unemployment rate. Let us argue this statement based on one of the historical initiators of the current working system, Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor company. One of the reasons which was given by Ford while implementing the 40-hour work was to increase sales. Ford observed that people did not have enough time to come back and buy their products after they left the job at late hours. This observation still has not changed only that most employers do not want to borrow the idea because they assume that they will pay for the unattended time. The idea behind the concept is that when people leave their workstation late, they walk straight to their residents because they have other chores to attend before it gets late. They will not have time to go making window-shopping or getting enticed with goods and mostly luxuries. When employees increase working hours, the time for making purchase more so indulgences will reduce and therefore most companies will lose sales. The consequences are high unemployment rate which the country is fighting to overcome.
Another reason why sales will decrease thereby increasing the unemployment rate is due to a reduction in the leisure time. Ford argued that when people are at leisure, they have time to think and make a decision to buy goods. What people know about leisure time is that it is meant for relaxing, playing games and visiting good places. However, there is more than that because, it is at that time when ideas to buy luxuries and other basic needs like good houses, land and good food comes in mind. Increasing the working time will reduce the time, which people need to think and make decisions to buy goods or improve the ones they had. A person can, for example, leave with one car for many years not because they do not have money to buy another one but because they do not have time to think about changing it. The time they have for leisure is not enough to focus on the vehicle to see that they require updating with the current model. Increasing the working time will, therefore, reduce the sales of companies. Reduced sales mean that the companies will lay off some of their workers increasing the unemployment rate.
People need time to consume the produced goods and services and therefore abandoning the system translates to reduced sales and overall country money circulation. Most employers argue that increasing the number of working by abandoning the 40-hour system will increase their production and therefore increase income, but that is not true. Increasing the number of working hours might increase production although they will require increasing coercion to make people work even when they are exhausted. However, their income will not rise and therefore leading to other expenditures like the cost of increased stock, which will hold their finances. The employees failed to note that they will engage those people whom they expect to buy the increased goods. The purchase will reduce because people will not have enough time to purchase items. Buying good even the most basic needs requires decision making to have quality food, clothing shelter, luxuries like cars among others. Also, one requires traveling time to the stores to buy the goods. Reducing the time spent on such activities, therefore, means that production will increase, but sales will decrease. Decreased sales will, in turn, increase the unemployment rate, which will lead to other issues like increased poverty and insecurity.
Abandoning the 40-hour work system will lower the quality of life of people. Apart from working time, there other forms of time, which people require in their life. They include personal time and unpaid household time. Quality of life is determined by how a person can balance between the various time. Increasing the working time will create an imbalance between the other time which people require leading to an unhappy life. Personal time is the time, which people expect to relax and reflect on what is happening in their life. People use the time to evaluate what a person needs to do to improve their well-being like changing from one job to another, career improvement shifting from one house to a better one among others. Consuming more time at work affects personal time more than any other. People use personal time to offset other time imbalances. The imbalances of time are compensated for using their own time. Increasing the number of hours will mean that people have to reduce the time they were sleeping, playing, reflecting and therefore lose happiness because of unfulfilled activities.
Another argument connected to the above is reduced family and country social status. Today, most couples are working unlike before when only the man who was working. Everyone comes home tired wanting to shower and relax on the bed. With the 40 hour week, there is enough time to go back early, shower, carry out in-house activities like cooking for women and repairing a socket for men. The time gives the couple a chance to interact and therefore increase their relationship. Reducing the time, therefore, means that the interactions will reduce thereby affecting the family relationship even with the children. There will not be enough time to understand each other, and therefore, conflicts will always arise even with a slight issue like misplacement of a remote. The same thing will happen between neighboring couples because they do not have time to know each other. The Issue of oneness in the country will no longer be there because there is limited time to care about others. Abandonment of the system will, therefore, affect the whole country, and other issues heighten like racism.
Increasing the time will increase the moral decay of society and raise a generation of people who cannot perform. Nobody is a monopoly of knowledge about life skills and other essential aspects. The time people interact with each other adds value to their life. According to psychologists, loneliness brings about depression, which can lead to suicide at the peak. People need that time to share about work and family experiences when they are going home and therefore help each other to solve a difficult situation. The interactions help the young generation to know the culture of their race or country, which the media may not present. Adopting a system with a higher number of working hours will mean that people cannot share to wipe away immoral minds or nature the young people.
Parents need time to mold their children towards good behaviors and shape their careers. Abandoning the time system means that children will lose parents care and nature on good behaviors, which are hard to get from house minds and the public. Also, families play a significant role in the career guidance of children. They observe their children characters and understand what they are capable of doing better than the rest. The idea helps them to guide their children and support them on what they can do there helping them discover their career and what they should study. Time with children helps to increase their self-efficacy thereby making them independent. Also, from parents, the children can build self-esteem unlike other people like the house workers who threaten them all the time. The time when the 40 hour week work came to the place, parents were not so much involved because in most couples only one person who was working. Today both are working and therefore it is not the best time to change the plan because it will affect the social system.
People have tried to avoid long working hours to have leisure time and therefore, abandoning the system will create stress. Looking at the issue from an economist point of view, there has been a continuous trend to reduce the time for working for centuries. As people continue to become rich, they tend to increase to convert the time to leisure other than getting more money to spend on goods and services. They do not take extra hours to earn more or ask for pay instead of leave. The trend extends to business people who today close their businesses on all holidays no matter the value placed on them by society to have leisure time. At home, people are also trying to reduce the time they spend on different duties to increase leisure. They buy dry cleaners, vacuum cleaners and other technologies, which can help them in various tasks. Abandoning the 40 hour work time is going against their efforts. Shifting to more work hours will take people back to the old days which they have tried to avoid. The system may resist creating trouble at work like late reporting and absenteeism.
Increasing the work time to earn more and make the economy grow or improve people’s lives is an argument, which does not hold in the current century. Anthropologists have identified that life happiness is not made up of money wealth only but a combination with personal development, security and time for children. Also, People have discovered that monetary wealth is not all that matters in life after they are now able to attend to their basic needs. One can have all the money but no time to enjoy it all see how other people like children are enjoying it. There is a familiar position people take that the one who is looking for money should eat firsts before the children. The argument shows how important it is to enjoy what one has searched for because that was the primary purpose of working. A time when people were mostly looking for basic needs, when there were no industries to work in is gone, and now, people have enough to cater to the necessities. Wha they are currently working towards is to fulfill the desires of their life which money only cannot achieve.
According to Larry Page, one of the Google founders, people have two types of needs (Fireside chat with Google, 00: 08:56-00:13:20). There is a need for things to do and a need to feel like one is needed. To make it simple, let us figure out the feeling at work. People feel that they do not want to work. However, when they are not at work, a need to work develops and the engagements with colleagues and other working experiences. At the same time when people are not at work, they feel that there is a gap in the workplace and the colleagues are missing them. The managers or employees feel that the employers are doing a lot in the company when they are not there and therefore, value them. The feeling makes people know that they are appreciated since every human being is looking forward for recognition from others. The only way to fulfill the needs is through lowering the time or splitting the job(Fireside chat with Google, 00: 08:56-00:13:20). Abandoning the 40 hour work week, therefore, means that there are some human desires which will go unachieved.
The strategy in the paragraph above is what Google uses to improve the performance of their employees. Apart from a few working hours, the company offers meals and quality ones to their employees (Fireside chat with Google, 00: 08:56-00:13:20). Offering meals has two advantages for the employees. First, it creates the need to work because there is a break as well as the need for a feeling that they are needed. Two, the strategy saves the time they would have cooked perhaps in their rooms or walked to a hotel. Also, there is a break which refreshes there minds. The strategy increases company production in several ways. Creating a need to work in employees through reduced time to work and meal breaks increases the productivity potential in them. The need to work is potential energy, which has a higher strong force, which is emptied through working. People will want to work to relieve the feeling that they need to work and therefore, having a series of breaks increase the vigor in people leading to high and quality production.
Having enough time allows employees to relieve from the stress of work and recharge in preparation for the next task. The mind gets tired of doing the same thing for a long time. There is likely hood of people suffering from chronic stress for working continuously without rest. The results are the poor quality of work because there is no more concentration on the task process. Also, the muscles get worn out because of working continuously without rest. Biologists explain the depth of the muscles getting tired by saying that the cells responsible lack enough oxygen to make more energy, which people use at work. Productivity per given time reduces as one gets tired. Increasing the number of working hours will even lower the productivity of the added time and the following day more. Having enough time to rest means that the cells will restore the energy enough to have maximum work output per given time the next morning or after the break. The 40-hour workweek should, therefore, remain to maintain high productivity and quality work similar to the case of Google Company.
According to a research done buy Tork, an American hygiene Products Company, about the abolishment of lunch hour break, there is a reduction in work engagement and job satisfaction (Tork par. 1). The research found that the commitment has reduced to 75 percent and argued that the employees could engage the 25 percent through the introduction of a lunch break (Tork par. 1). The research shows the importance of having enough breaks from work. Abandoning the idea of 40-hour workweek is a threat to the breaks, which most companies are seeking. Having enough breaks improves the way people feel about their work and even the employer, which increase productivity. Introduction of more hours will be a contradiction to what most companies are looking for because the overall productivity will reduce.
The US does not need that extra time to increase productivity because productivity is rising every day even with the 40 hour work week system. Technology has come where the work output of one person is higher than the way it was several years ago still under the few working hours. Also, people are more specialized and skilled to increase productivity. One does not require to increase the number of working hours to produce an extra unit. People only need to work smart, and they are doing that in the current century. Salespeople, for example, carry their laptops at home or use their Smartphone to continue interacting with clients even after work. That extra time after workers have left the workstation is still benefiting the company in such ways. Other people are using it make some investigations about the company’s product, and information which is vital to the employer. Increasing the weekly work hour means that there is so much which the company will lose like making follow up on clients and collecting views about the products.
In conclusion, abandonment of the 40-hour work per week has many shortcomings to all people regardless of whether they are employers or do not have a job. Everybody needs that extra time to engage in other social activities because people are social beings. The mind always pushes people to explore and therefore spending too much time on one activity will become dull and lower productivity. Also, too much time at work creates stress which can lead to depression and overall reduced productivity. The managers or company owners will lose more than what they count as gain. The added time will increase productivity, but there will be nobody to buy the goods because people will be busy. Technology has come where industries can increase productivity without increasing work time. The companies should adopt the technology to avoid interfering with the lives of people and the system, which is already working.
“Fireside chat with Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Vinod Khosla.” YouTube, Uploaded by Khosla Ventures, 3 July 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdnp_7atZ0M
Tork. “Tork survey reveals lunch break impact on workplace engagement.” 2018 https://www.torkusa.com/about/pressroom/tbtlb/ 21 Feb. 2019.
1548 Kallis, Giorgos, et al. ““Friday off”: reducing working hours in Europe.” Sustainability 5.4 (2013): 1545-1567.
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