When I first heard that Bernie Sanders was presenting a 32-hour work week for hourly employees in the US, to replace the current 40-hour work week that has been in existence for as long as I can remember, I scoffed at the idea. How can we possibly get everything done in 32 hours? That's a big time difference; isn't it? And when does it feel like 32 hours a week is too much? When will we be thinking we can get as much done in 10 hours a week as we can in 32 hours?

In 1938, The Fair Labor Standards Act, signed into law the 44-hour work week. That must have proved to be too much for people to take, as just two years later they changed it to 40 hours a week.

It's not that I'm against having more time off. Who wouldn't want that? An extra day to get things done, and then have a day for fun, and another day for rest?

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I read the results of a study that was conducted on British companies, that had agreed to do a 32-hour work week. They shared that their employees came to work less stressed and more focused while revenues remained the same or in some cases, increased.

Another study showed similar results when they asked 61 different companies to reduce their working hours for 6 months without cutting their employees' wages. After 6 months, they reported that 71% of the workers reported feeling less 'burned out' and almost half of the people who participated said they were more satisfied with their jobs.

24 of the companies that participated said their revenue growth was over 34% over the six months during the study and many other companies showed smaller increases.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


The biggest challenge is, what companies would do well with this model, and how many others would not? There would still be overtime, but people would start getting it at 33 hours instead of 40. Could companies sustain that? Would they have to hire more people to make the model work?

Maybe many companies would go to a salary model. In that case, people would be guaranteed certain wages but would they then have to work more than 40 hours to make the same wage?

It will be interesting to see what happens, but according to an article with apnews.com, we probably shouldn't count on the bill that Bernie Sanders introduced to the Senate last week, to be taken too seriously. What do you think about a 32-hour workweek?

Let me know at kelly.cordes@townsquaremedia.com.

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