The Unexpected Benefit of the Six-Hour Workday

For two years now, Sweden has been experimenting with a six-hour workday. The study of said truncated workday took place with nurses who work at the Svartedalens retirement home; not shockingly, they liked it. The central findings were that productivity rose, the nurses had lower stress, and became sick less often — also more nurses had to be hired to fill the gaps caused by the shorter shifts. Pretty much as expected. But there was one key finding that was less expected: The nurses who worked shorter days would ultimately end up saving money.

Bloomberg put two and two together and surmised that because the nurses who worked fewer hours were in turn healthier, they would ultimately spend less money on healthcare. "The satisfactory blood pressure is slightly lower for nurses at Svartedalens and the reference facility in comparison to the normal value for all professional women," the Swedish study found. Which caused Bloomberg to chime in, while citing a study from MayoClinic, saying, "Healthier employees spend half as much on health care."

Here in the U.S. employees spend substantial sums on employee wellness programs, but maybe the better move is just to invest in more employees and treat them all to better working conditions, including 6-hour workdays. It will be hard to implement this on a large scale, but perhaps shorter workdays are indeed the future.