The Congressional Progressive Caucus recently endorsed a bill that would shrink the U.S. workweek from five days to four.
Rep. Mark Takano introduced legislation that has become aptly known as the “32-Hour Workweek Act.” While the bill hasn’t advanced out of the House Education and Labor Committee, it has sparked an important conversation around worker burnout.
According to a survey from market research company Ipsos, 53 percent of U.S. workers said they’re burned out at work. About half the random sample of more than 1,000 U.S. workers indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to reevaluate their career path and work-life balance.
Around one-third of respondents said they are planning to find a new job in the next year. However, roughly two-out-of-three workers said they value their employees now more than when the pandemic began.
“For far too long, workers across this country have been forced to put in longer hours as their wages barely budge,” said chair of the caucus and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in a statement.
In the U.S., wages have been declining relative to the GDP for 50 years, as economic growth increasingly benefits workers less.
Worker burnout didn’t begin with the pandemic. It’s been simmering for a while, but add the pressures of an ongoing pandemic, including a labor shortage, burnout is now all but overflowing.
The 4-day workweek caught traction in the U.S., while other countries have had success implementing similar measures. Shorter workweeks have been shown to keep business profitable and workers happier.
A pilot program of the 4-day workweek in Iceland resulted in workers reporting less stress and burnout, as well as higher levels of happiness — without a decrease in productivity. The concept is being trialed in other countries such as Scotland, Japan, and Sweden.
The UAE just announced that in the new year, federal employees will move to a four-and-a-half-day work week.
What is “burnout” and how can employers prevent it?
“Burnout” isn’t just slang for feeling tired or unhappy at work, it’s a special type of work-related stress.
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”
It isn’t considered a medical diagnosis, but medical experts believe that it can lead to other conditions such as depression, which can impact workers physically as well as mentally.
While a 4-day workweek might be an impossibility for many employers, the message is clear: workers want flexibility. Maybe that means allowing workers to set their own schedules, rearrange shifts, or take time for mental health.
It may just pay off in productivity, retention, and overall worker wellbeing.
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.
With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
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