As many companies fight tooth and nail to attract skilled workers to their organisation, many are now looking past financial incentives to get candidates signing on the dotted line. From remote-working to benefit packages there is no shortage of options available to a recruiter but they are constantly on the lookout for the next big draw-card to entice a candidate to work for their organisation.

With the traditional 9-5 workday earned by the hard work of unions in the 19th century, the last few years have seen a radical reevaluation concerned with decreasing employee burnout rates and by reducing work hours, they might be on to something. Typically the 8 hour day is filled with emails, meetings and work related issues- many of which can keep you in the office longer and affect your work-life balance to the point where you are more stressed out and spend less time with your family. It has recently been argued that by working smarter- and not for longer can be the missing piece in the puzzle to boost employee morale and productivity.

Recently Amazon created a splash in the media when trialing the 6-hour working day for members of their technical team while offering full benefits packages but at a reduced wage at 75%. The trial consisted of only a few dozen staff but related to an entire team including managers and would test whether employee satisfaction could be attributed with the hours they worked.

“The focus of the experiment was to create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth” – Jeffrey P. Bezos. Amazon Chief Executive


What you may not have known is that many Scandinavian organisations have already taken the step to promote a more sustainable work-life balance in their employees. Toyota Services in Gothernburg reportedly cut back to 30 hours a week years ago with others including employees at the Svartedalens nursing home in Gothernburg, Sweden, have been testing reduced hours with the same pay since last February.

Initial results looked promising, absenteeism was well down and workers became much happier in their roles. The standard of care was increased as staff felt like they could properly care for elderly people, some of which have demanding illnesses.

That’s not to say problems didn’t soon emerge with such a model- in order to cope with the shortage in hours worked, Svartedalens had to recruit an additional 15 nurses to the value of $6,000,000 Krona ($735,000 USD). Roughly half of this figure was able to be offset by the lowered rates in absenteeism and time off and the figures don’t account for the improved care patients have received.

Other Swedish retirement homes modeled the shorting working hours in the 90s and found it too expensive to sustain long-term. While we won’t know the final results of Svartedalen’s trial until later in 2016, the intentions are clear: employees love other things more than your business and standing in their way will almost certainly leave you with an uninspiring culture. For some, the 30-hour working week may not be the solution they are looking for, but the concept is out now and many firms will be inventing their own ways to improve your work-life balance.