World · August 2, 2022

I am a boss and I say we should work less

Shoddy jobs have led to millions of people leaving the workforce altogether, creating the seemingly perennial labor shortage that has become the bane of the existence of hiring managers. During the Great Resignations, a record number of Americans quit their jobs due to burnout, low pay, childcare, elderly care … and you name it.

To entice people to re-enter the labor market, employers have raised pay. But inflation wiped out that and then a little bit, so it didn’t work. The bosses have let some of us work from home, but this is an advantage that many offices have begun to reactivate as people become less fearful of Covid.

So here’s a crazy solution: let people work less. I know it sounds radical. But it turns out that the workers are really engaged in the idea AND are more productive.

Over the past eight weeks, thousands of people in the UK have tested a four-day program, with no cuts to their pay, reports my colleague Annaicino. It’s the world’s largest trial of a four-day workweek so far. Unsurprisingly, some workers reported feeling happier, healthier and working better.
During similar trials between 2015 and 2019 in Iceland, there was no drop in productivity among four-day workers and a dramatic increase in employee well-being. When Microsoft tried a shorter workweek in Japan in 2019, it found that productivity increased by nearly 40%.

So who do we have to fight to have a three day weekend around here? It turns out the answer may be inertia.

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that we would be working 15 hours a week by 2030, with office hours running out over time. But the 40-hour workweek was hard fought by unions across America, and it just … got stuck. A shift from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, has become the norm and over time it has become difficult for companies and workers to think differently.

You can present all the data you want to your boss, but you’re unlikely to be very successful in convincing management that the way to increase productivity and solve the labor shortage is to give everyone Friday off, forever.

MY CHANCE: As a relatively low people manager, I understand both sides.

Allison (as you know) is a fierce advocate of a four-day workweek, and if only I had the power, I’d make it happen for her. And with endless, constant meetings that could have been e-mails, combined with the 3pm closing time and catching up on “The Bachelor” with co-workers, I’m sure it builds up into a full day in the course of my week where my productivity is actually zero. I’d gladly cut it to spend more time with my family or whatever.

But – and hear me about this – what if we start improving the job? I’m not saying this just because my bosses read it (hello bosses!), But work should be a fulfilling endeavor where we feel like we’re accomplishing something important and meaningful in our lives. Whether it’s saving the planet or cleaning the bathrooms, work is needed. And good companies should provide a positive environment where employees can grow and feel like they’re doing something worthwhile.

Too often, however, companies put idiots like me in charge, because they don’t know what else to do with people, so they make them managers. Still, it was fun, but back to work, Allison! Those stories won’t write themselves.

NUMBER OF THE DAY: 53.6 million

That’s the number of tons of electronic junk the world threw away in 2019, according to the most recent data from the United Nations. Only 17.4% of this was recycled, reports my colleague Catherine Thorbecke.


Cat food is great. It smells weird, it’s overly oily, and let’s be honest it looks like something that should go out, not go in.

Yet, for some ungodly reason, Purina will open a cat food-inspired human restaurant in New York this month.

The dishes at the Gatto Bianco, Purina’s Italian-style pop-up trattoria, would be inspired by Fancy Feast’s new “Medleys” cat food line. Medleys include options like “beef ragout with tomatoes and pasta in salty sauce,” which, as my colleague Zoe Sottile noted, is designed for the cat with a fussy taste.
Cat lovers can try Fancy Feast's Italian pop-up cat food inspired dishes

Just a note for a minute about yummy cat food: my cats regularly drink from the toilet, lick their anus in public, and leave dead rodents on the bed, so, like, these aren’t exactly graduates. I’m all about keeping your cat healthy, but “Milanese beef and pork with potatoes and carrots in salty juices” looks like he’s going to get lost in the audience.

I understand what Purina is trying to do here – it’s such a delicious meal you would eat it too! But there’s a reason I feed my pets (relatively) inexpensive food from a can: because they are animals and I’ve seen them eat a literally dead squirrel carcass and behave happier than anything I’ve ever given. to eat them.

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