Many Americans—particularly entrepreneurs—think they work way too much, and it’s hurting their health and work-life balance. The world’s second-richest person thinks he has the solution: Require people to work just three to four days per week.
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim told attendees of a business conference in Paraguay last week that employers could improve their workers’ long-term well-being by having them work just three to four days per week. It would also make it easier for workers to continue working at least part-time into their 70s, because they would likely be healthier thanks to leading less-stressful lives.
“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” Slim said. “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”
Slim’s call for shorter work weeks may seem impractical, especially since many Americans already have trouble keeping their workweeks under 40 hours. But he’s not the first person to point out the perils of overworking and the benefits of giving workers for free time.
Some small and midsized companies, such as Slingshot SEO of Indianapolis and Treehouse Island of Orlando, already provide employees with three-day weekends. These companies have found that it’s easier to recruit and retain highly skilled and competent employees when you ask them to work just four days per week—even if they’re working 10-hour days. The extra day off also gives them more time to manage their personal lives, whether running errands, spending time with the kids or having time to pursue a personal passion or interest.
“Such a perk is an amazing draw in the age of recruiting the best in talent to your team,” former Slingshot CEO Jay Love wrote on Inc.com in 2012. “Like a hit song, your HR department needs a ‘hook’ to snag the cream of the crop. It will make an incredible difference.”
Even executives of large U.S. corporations have hailed the potential benefits of shorter workweeks. Google CEO Larry Page told a business summit recently that a four-day week could help solve Americans’ work-life balance crisis. Working five days per week doesn’t necessarily make for more productive employees.
"The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true," Page said, according to CBS MoneyWatch.
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