Why a Shorter Work Week May Not Improve Your Office-Life Satisfaction

It's tough to hear, but a shorter work week may not improve your job-life satisfaction. A recent study shows that there needs to be more than just a government reform to change office culture--corporations need to toe the line.

If you were told to work five hours less every week, would you be happier? In the moment, the answer would be an unquestionable, "Yes." But Eric Jaffe of Fast Company points to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies that argues happiness isn't so easily achieved. 


Back in 2004, the South Korean government made workers just such an offer by introducing the Five-Day Working Reform, reducing the work week from 44 to 40 hours and making Saturday an official day off. Robert Rudolf, a labor scholar at the Korea University, has been keeping tabs on over 13,700 workers from 1998 to 2008 to analyze how the reduced hours would impact their overall happiness.

Despite the government reform to reduce working hours, the study found that less time in the office did not increase job-life satisfaction. Rudolf wrote of his results:

The findings indicate that reductions did not have the expected positive effects on worker well-being. While satisfaction with working hours increased, reductions had no impact on job and life satisfaction. Thus, long working hours might not be as negatively related to worker well-being as predicted by theory. Moreover, positive [subjective well-being] effects might be offset by rising work intensity.”

Rudolf speculates that just because a government reform is passed, it doesn't mean corporations will toe the line. In order to combat the shorter hours, he believes companies may have demanded the same amount of work done in less amount of time, or even reduced employee vacation time. While the government reform was aimed to help workers achieve a balance between personal and office life, they may not have considered that companies would not be as flexible to the idea.

Read more at Fast Company

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