Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Panasonic will offer a four-day workweek in Japan

Pictures: Philip Fong / AFP (Getty Images)

Panasonic has announced plans to give Japanese workers a four-day work week in an effort to improve productivity and attract better workers, according to a new report. Nikkei Asia. The move comes after the Japanese government made an official recommendation to private employers in 2021, which included a shorter working week.

The four-day work week from Finland to New Zealand has been floated around the world in various forms. Sometimes, shorter weeks mean that employers prolong four days of work by maintaining something close to 40 hours. Other times companies will actually offer a shorter week with less total hours, so that people can take more leisure time or more education.

“We must support the well-being of our employees,” President and CEO Yuki Kusumi said recently, according to Nikkei.

From Nikkei:

Panasonic hopes to give employees more time to pursue their personal interests, be they volunteers or side jobs. Details will be dressed by each operating company.

According to a 2020 survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, only 8% of Japanese companies offer guaranteed holidays more than two days a week. Those who do so typically want to help employees meet their personal life needs, such as Yahoo Japan and Sompo Himawari Life Insurance, which began offering third-day leave in 2017 to care only for children or elderly relatives.

Companies that have tried out a shorter work week while maintaining competitive pay usually find no loss of productivity. In fact, technology companies have found that reduced hours often lead to higher productivity, not to mention more satisfaction among employees. When Microsoft tried a four-day workweek in Japan in 2019, productivity increased by 40%, The Washington Post.

Despite its reputation in the United States as a workaholic culture, Japanese workers actually work fewer hours than their American counterparts, according to recent data. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The United States ranks 11th among OECD countries for having the most hours worked by the average worker, while Japan ranks 26th. The top five, in order, include: Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, South Korea and Russia.

A short working week has been promised for generations of Americans. In fact, economists in the 1960s were convinced that while we would only work 16-hour work weeks, robots would do most of the work. Your only problem was what to do with all your free time.

An article that ran in a North Carolina newspaper November 26, 1967 It all promises:

Those who are hungry for vacation from work can take heart from the prediction of political scientist Sebastian de Grazia that by 2000 the average working week will be 31 hours on average and probably less than 21. Twenty years later, on-the-job hours could drop to 26, or even 16.

But what will people do with so much leisure time? Attitudes may not be cheerful.

As de Grazia observes: “There are reasons to fear, as some do, that leisure time, compulsory leisure time, will bring a restless tick to boredom, laziness, immorality and personal violence. Yes, automated jobs can grow, but they will carry the stigma of stupidity. Men will prefer not to work than to accept them. Those who accept them will gradually become politically inferior.

A possible solution: to separate income from work; Perhaps a guaranteed annual wage is “a way of living a leisurely life for those who think they have the mood.”

Where did so much leisure time go? Your boss used it to buy his second home.

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