“Karoshi” is a Japanese term that means “death by overwork.” And their culture is not alone in pushing its employees too hard in the workplace.
Now a shrinking workforce is forcing the country to take a closer look at how its culture does business, so the creation of new “workstyle reform” initiatives have begun.
One solution tested is to reduce the work week from five days to four, opening up more opportunities for those who cannot work full-time.
During their 2019 Summer Work-Life Choice Challenge, Microsoft Japan gave all 2,300 of its employees Fridays off without a decrease in pay. “Work a short time, rest well, and learn a lot,” Microsoft Japan CEO Takuya Hirano told his employees. “I want us to think about how we can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.”
The actual results surprised everyone. Productivity skyrocketed by 40%. Employees were happier and meetings were more efficient. The cost of doing business fell as well. Electricity bills dropped by 23% and workers printed 60% fewer pages—92% of Microsoft Japan’s employees said they preferred the shorter work week. They felt less stressed and were also less compelled to check social media, allowing them to be more focused on their jobs.
A four-day work week is being implemented in parts of Europe and New Zealand as well. The idea is catching on across the globe as countries come to terms with the actual costs of stress on health, work-life balance, and employee satisfaction.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also propelled the issues of worker health and workplace flexibility into the spotlight as never before, leaving companies scrambling for safer, healthier ways to do business effectively and sustainably in a brave new world.
With today’s challenges, a shorter work week looks like just what the doctor ordered.
This story brought to you by Arroyo Seco Live.
“Building community through creativity. SecoLive.org