The End of 9 to 5? How Work Schedules Are Changing

Is the traditional 9-to-5 workday obsolete? Many would say so. There seems to be a consensus among both employers and employees that a shift needs to be made in how the traditional workday is structured. The present-day model doesn’t really promote a healthy work-life balance or stimulate productivity. Too much of a routine can be dangerous. Longer, more rigid hours don’t always equal more work being done. Employees may be coming in for 40-hour weeks, but if they aren’t using that time wisely, then businesses actually lose out in the long run.


The History of the 9-to-5 Workday 

The idea of working from 9 to 5 is a product of socialism during the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1890 that the U.S. government started to track workers’ hours. Up until that point, employees could work up to 100 hours a week and there were no laws protecting children. In 1926, Ford Motors was one of the first companies to adapt the 9-to-5 model and helped to make it more mainstream. In 1938, the U.S. congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which made the workweek 44 hours. In 1940, it was readjusted to the five-day, 40-hour workweek that remains the basic standard today.


The Mindset of Millennials and Entrepreneurs

A 9-to-5 simply isn’t for everyone. If you feel trapped easily, especially sitting in a cubicle, dislike routine and/or mundane tasks, and have a problem with authority, then maybe a job in a more creative setting, or of an entrepreneurial nature, would suit you better. At the top of the list, millennials seem to feel the most dissatisfied with the traditional workday structure, placing greater importance on factors like flexibility, impactful or purposeful labour, and economic security. They’re also more willing to seek employment on their own terms and work freelance.


Structured Benefits

The 9-to-5 model does, however, have some major benefits. While some find the routine repetitive, others may find the predictability comforting. Stability and financial security are two of the main reasons many people in years past stayed at the same job for decades. A 9-to-5 job gives people a set schedule they can plan around, as opposed to shift work, where employees don’t always know what their upcoming schedule will look like from one week to the next.


The Possibility of a 4-Day Workweek

One alternative suggestion that’s been gathering support in recent years is for a “compressed” four-day workweek. Employees would work four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts, with Friday becoming a third day of the weekend. Experts have argued for and against it; some say that it would motivate employees to work harder, doesn’t disturb workflow, cuts down on time-consuming commutes (which in turn reduces workers’ spending on gas or transit), eases burnout risks, and promotes other activities. The counterarguments to the new working pattern are that longer standard workdays would be more draining and stressful, and a revamped workweek would potentially affect working parents, who have to deal with things like daycare services.


Our lives are much more than just our jobs. “Work to live, don’t live to work” is a common mantra. The 9-to-5 model may have worked in decades past, but times are changing. Our world is constantly evolving, and so is society. Thanks to recent advances in technology, many businesses can run from a home or out of a remote location. The traditional ways that most workplaces have run are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the workweek becomes increasingly fluid.


At the end of the day, however, work schedules hardly matter if you have purpose in your life. Regardless of the time of day or week, the hours will fly by if you’re doing something you enjoy.


Rhea Braganza | Contributing Writer

The Benefits of Investing in Continuing Education for Employees

As businesses continue to strategize about growing in size and strength, finding and retaining employees is a crucial factor. Many companies look at hiring staff as investing in their potential. An entry-level position, if the successful candidate should stay with the organization for many years, can yield significant long-term benefits for both parties.

Some staff may start out in one area of the company but find, through collaboration and osmosis, that they’re actually more interested in another. Rather than lose them altogether, allowing these workers to transition to other departments or roles in which they’d be happier can often benefit the business in the long run. Helping them with additional training and education can aid in this process.

Employee Growth

In ideal cases, companies can help their staff become more versatile and effective by supporting or reimbursing them as they take outside courses. A writer may become interested in graphic design by working closely with the design team on projects, or a clerk may want to help out with sales or finding new clients. While the person may have some of the skills required, taking specific courses or training related to this new field can make them much stronger in it.

Encouraging employees to enroll in related continuing education classes and funding them in the process can actually turn the employee’s position into a dual role. The employer may feel it necessary to increase their salary as a result, but the organization will still save money in the long run by having one person who can perform two different tasks, rather than paying two different people.

Funding Staff Training

As one of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon understands the value of helping its employees grow. The online retail giant funds degree and certificate programs for staff even in areas that are unrelated to its industry. Software firm Adobe offers its workers $10,000 annually for eligible education-related programs and materials, while online education software company Pluralsight reimburses staff up to $3,000 for “pre-approved college classes meeting specific grade requirements.”

Financial news provider Bloomberg and health-care company Kaiser Permanente also provide continuing education opportunities to employees, such as workshops and classes. PayPal offers a rotational education program for qualified candidates, and Microsoft reimburses its staff for courses and grants them access to the company’s own development classes, library, festival, and speaker series.

Investing in Employees

Not all companies excel at retaining employees once they hire them. However, making the company as appealing to work for as possible will help entice more people to stay with the organization. One way to help ensure staff don’t rush out the door for better opportunities is to contribute to their ability to improve themselves. While a company will often benefit from employees improving themselves, the individuals will not only feel a sense of personal accomplishment, but also gratitude towards their employer for investing in them. Some employees may feel increased loyalty to the company as a result; some may not. However, a successful company can afford to take the risk.

Offering incentives like continuing education and taking an active interest in employees’ long-term career development will encourage staff dedication and growth. While it may not always pay immediate dividends, this kind of investment in people is almost always worthwhile in the long run.

 

Robyn Naster Karmazyn | Contributing Writer