When it comes to working hours, less apparently is not more. Proponents of the six-hour workday will be saddened to hear that, as delightful as shorter days sound, decreasing work hours might not make anyone any happier.
At least that's what new research in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests. The 10-year longitudinal study examined the impact of the reform South Korea instituted in 2004 reducing working hours on Korean workers' happiness. While people's satisfaction with their working hours increased, there wasn't a significant effect on overall life or job satisfaction.
The Five-Day Working Policy decreased the country's official work week from 44 hours down to 40 hours, and made Saturdays officially non-working days. The policy aimed to combat the low rates of productivity and high rates of on-the-job injury associated with Korea's long work hours, as well as bolster the country's leisure industry. Over the years the study looked at, 1998 to 2008, average working hours declined by 10 percent.
Partially, the lack of impact on overall happiness could be due to companies reducing the number of hours their employees worked, but not the amount of work they were required to complete. As author Robert Rudolph writes, "many companies responded with increased work intensity and downward adjustments of employee's leave and holidays to fill the gap."
Women had a greater increase in satisfaction with their work hours, which Rudolph attributes to the conflict Korean women face in balancing work with traditional family duties like childcare and household chores. (The study only examined married or cohabitating couples with children, so how all the single ladies feel we don't know.) One study Rudolph cites found that while men used their newfound free time for leisure and recreation, women largely used it to catch up on housework.
Rudolph concludes that either long work hours aren't as intimately tied to personal happiness as we thought, or whatever positive effect reducing working hours might provide is just completely obliterated by the increased intensity of companies trying to fit in the same amount of work into fewer hours. And of course, since this study only focused on a specific subset of people--South Korean couples with children--it's possible the results may not extend to everyone in the world.
I find this an absolutely bogus study. I can count the number of people I know who actually like to work on 1 hand, and its only because the person (yeah all of 1 single person in my immediate and extended circle of friends, acquaintances, and family) is one of the very very very few lucky SOB who does what he loves and is passionate as well as a hobby … and thereby in that very definition - it is not even work. They are just lucky to get paid to do it.
I work only because I have to, not in any way shape or form because I want to. Not by any means shape or form. There is no short number of things I would rather do with my life day in and day out instead of making some select few CEO types millions all while struggling to get by myself.
I (as well as countless, countless others) am a slave - an economic slave. The bars are invisible yet very, very real. Why? Why do I, why do any of us accept this daily form of abuse? (yes, some jobs in are in fact just that - I once held a job that physically made me ill just thinking about going in - I would go sleepless nights simply to make tomorrow not come literally 1 second sooner that it had to, and then I’d vomit and have other … bathroom related issues every single day as I was getting ready to go in.)
Why? Why would I, why would any of us actually subject ourselves day in and day out until the bittersweet release of death? The need to eat, the need for shelter. Period.
Happiness is not a shorter work day, it is NO work day.
Uh, obvious and ridiculous flaw: This study is of South Koreans. Anyone who knows about South Korean culture knows that extreme work hours and work ethic is a source of major cultural pride for them. Employees attempt to stay longer than their bosses no matter what.
Bad and wrong study.
It COMPLETELY depends of:
1. Do you have money.
2. Do you like the job.
3. Is the job mentally and physically exhausting.
4. Do you have entertainign activities after the job.
5. Individual personality and lifestyle.
6. How long workdays.
7. How many breaks, pauses, moments to relax.
I doubt that a normal worker would be happier with 8 hour shift at a chicken deboning station with only one 30 min break instead of 6 hours/day.
Another flaw was that the test group consisted of people during child-bearing years. I worked a lot of 12 or even 16 hour days then, but as they are now grown-& Im a lot older, I recently switched from a job w/ 12hr days(3-4 day workweeks) to an 8 hr day (5 day workweek). As both jobs were satisfying in & of themselves taskwise, the shorter 8hr workday (w/ occassional overtime!) has proven to be much more satisfying than the longer 12hr workday. I know of many individuals whom are semi-retired that work 3-4 6hr shifts a week, with flexible rules as to which days they come to work. I sure look forward to my turn @ that gig!
How can people be happy with a mortgage (death deed) hanging over their heads ie, you're forced to work? When people can create at their pace they will be much happier. This system must pass away and "Hard Labor" will be done away.
"On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 4you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has come to an end!
How his fury has ended!
The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked,
the scepter of the rulers,"
So true. There are some pretty big cultural differences between South Korea vs United States. For example: The leading cause of suicide among Korean teens is from not getting into a good college. The pressure to succeed professionally is intense. When I worked there, my secretary had a masters degree. She would have been way overqualified for that position in the US, but in South Korea, that level of education is expected even for low level positions.
The results of this study don't apply anywhere else but South Korea.
One huge problem with these types of studies is the disconnect between hours spent on the job and the amount of productive output resulting from those hours. I know lots of co-workers that claim to regularly put in 70 hours per week, yet none of them ever seem to produce as much useful output as others putting in just 40 hours per week.
From my personal experience, as long as a worker is doing something that they feel is productive and creative they are happy to work as many hours as the job requires. But if a worker feels that the work they are doing is non-productive and a wasted effort, they will never be happy with any job. Even if the job only requires working a few hours per week.
In Europe we have a starter's 20 working days of vacation a year. Two weeks in the summer, two weeks in the winter. I'm happy.