Does a five-day working week retire

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A five-day working week in Serbia has more than half a century of experience. Is it time to retire and can I meet the demands of employers and the wishes of workers four working days a week? In which sectors could a shorter working week be easily applied, and who could have problems because of that?

Some companies are already working from Monday to Thursday, there are some in Serbia. The company “Manpower group”, which deals with human resources, shortened the working week six months ago.

“There are many benefits that this project has brought us – I would start with productivity, because it is equally important for employees and the company, and increased motivation. We believe that greater motivation and productivity will contribute to better economic well-being of the company. is that with fewer working hours salaries remain at the same level “, says Aleksandar Plavšin, manager for corporate affairs of” Manpower group “.

It’s a whole new dimension of life, employees say.

“Some colleagues use Free Friday to escape the city and spend better time with their family and friends, while others use it to work on personal development. Monday is a day that has taken on another dimension with Free Friday,” said Marina Nedeljkovic, a consultant. for human resources “Manpower group”.

There has been no change in the work week since the late 1960s 

It sounds like a paradise for employees, but the employer benefits more from the shortened work week. 

“We had cases from the end of the 19th century to the 1960s when the Sabbath was released. That was not the case before, working hours were much longer. And finally, we have not had a change in the work week since the late 1960s and now it is a question , since labor productivity then tripled, while wages in the United States grew twice as slow, “explains Goran Nikolic, an economist.

The five-day work week is an idea of ​​industrialist Henry Ford from a hundred years ago. A new approach is now arriving from that side of the Atlantic.

“What we see is happening mainly at the level of the Western world, which has the highest productivity and the largest space and has always been a pioneer in these activities. China has only recently introduced two days off, in India people still work six days,” Nikolic added. .

Small businesses could face a new problem

Changes are not always easy. The IT sector can easily adopt four working days, but small businesses could face a new problem.

“There is a family founder and two, three, four employees. They are already working on the margins of existence, with a very low rate of profitability and that would be too much of a blow for them. If a man introduces working for four days, he will have to hire someone else. “There is no budget for that, there is not enough money. Which means that he and his family will work non-stop, which they already do, so we will put them in a very inhumane state,” said Dragisa Ristovski from the Center for Business Development. skill “Dr. Gilbert”.

The revolution of working hours requires a revolution in the consciousness of both employees and employers. It is not a question of working less, but of coming to work more rested and ready, in order to do more and better in a shorter time. But it is an ideal picture. 

We are talking about upgrades, but when we talk about employers – there are a lot of them who do not meet the basic things yet: they are late with salaries, people do not get the days off guaranteed, overtime is not paid. What is the danger when it comes to It happens that when the employer is more people-oriented and has that humane approach, some people perceive it as a kind of weakness or relaxation, because there is no point in shortening our working hours and declining our productivity, “explains Ristovski.

The most difficult application in retail and catering

A shorter working week would be the most difficult to apply in retail and catering, where work is not done on the norm, but on time. A shorter working week means hiring additional people, ie higher costs for the same income. And salaries are low here anyway.

“These are not attractive positions, fewer and fewer people want to deal with retail, which means that there are not enough workers, and another thing: we need to find a budget again and pay for it. So it is extremely difficult, almost impossible,” Ristovski said.

A major challenge would be the introduction of a four-day working week in public services as well. We all want to have public sector services on both Saturdays and Sundays, not to be available on Fridays either.

“In the public sector, this would be solved by shortening working hours over several days, so we would have workers who would work from Monday to Thursday, others from Wednesday to Saturday, to schedule work. There is a possibility that in “Do it to the entire public sector because it is an act of the state and if it starts, the state can achieve it most easily, because it is the employer and, in the end, schedule work so that the main functions of the state do not suffer,” said Nikolic.

“We will not lead the trend, but change will overwhelm us as well.”

A non-working Friday could, therefore, become a new norm.

“Of course, we will not be pioneers in that. Serbia really cannot, as a country that is not economically at the level of Western Europe, we cannot lead this whole trend, but these changes will overwhelm us and, in the end, companies will start applying “Then the state can do the same for 600,000 people in one go, and then you have a completely new reality that people are happier,” Nikolic emphasizes.

And would we really be happier if we spent less time at work? For some, three days off a week would be too little to fulfill all their desires, and for others, one day off is too much.

It brings us back not only to practical questions, what to do with our time, how to structure it and what resources we need to make that time nicely organized, but it also brings us back to the question of whether we know how to spend quality time with ourselves and It often brings people back to our private sphere. Often people live separately – one is their private world, the other is their professional identity, they feel safer in that environment, and there are some problems they return to or run away from when they dedicate themselves to work, “said Kristina Brajovic. Emperor, psychologist.

In Belgium, workers negotiate a four-day work week with their employer

Many cannot leave their work even in their free time.

“But it gives you the opportunity to look back on what you’ve done outside of your work environment and set a plan for the future. I think it’s important to take that break, which doesn’t have to be an empty break, it can only be filled with a different perspective.” and the same topics “, adds Kristina Brajović Car.

These changes were fueled by the pandemic – primarily the understanding of the flexibility of the workplace and working hours. Some states are already forcing employers to negotiate with workers.

The Belgian government has passed a bill that allows employees to negotiate a four-day work week with their employer. He is not obliged to, but must explain why he will not introduce the concept, and this applies to companies with more than 20 employees. to introduce Scotland and Wales, as well as Spain “, states Nikolić.

According to the latest Eurostat data, workers in Serbia spend an average of 44.8 hours a week at work, which makes us, at least statistically, the most valuable Europeans. This means that we have not yet mastered the five-day working week, even though more than half a century has passed since its introduction. Since then, the labor market has changed a lot and some adjustments are necessary, RTS writes.