BOZTEPE: Americans deserve three-day weekends
Opinions Column: Kaanotations
In the past century, American workers used to work six days of the week. That changed in 1940, when the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 introduced the 40-hour work week. Those 40 hours were split into 8 hours within a span of five days. I believe that it is time to implement a three-day weekend versus the two-day weekend we now have within the United States. Unlike many European countries, we only get limited vacation days, approximately 15 days, versus the majority of Europe, which receives approximately 30 days. Within this article I will be discussing the benefits of a three-day weekend, the long term affects and why even the three-day weekend just simply is not enough.
Humans are prone to health issues if they are overworked. A sentence so simple and logical yet usually overlooked. In simple terms, two days do not satisfy the average person who is working 40 plus hours, or even a student who is attending school and working on the side. Within those two days people have to basically choose between running errands, being tired for the sake of seeing friends and family or resting. To squish all of that within two days and then expect employees to come to work enthusiastically and full of energy to help whatever company succeed is merely idiotic. Therefore, the United States has been far from the top ten happiest countries in the world index along with being far from one of the healthiest countries. With only two days off to yourself, one would have to fill all their weekly errands and down time within a two-day span. During these two days you are already exhausted from the 40 or more hours you worked throughout the week. This can lead to a lack of sleep, a lack of being able to exercise and possibly even failure to eat 3 to 4 meals consistently throughout a day. With a three-day weekend, the average worker would receive 52 additional days for people to spend as they would like, along with other holidays.
Taking an additional day out of the office benefits more than the employees, it also helps the business. For example, Utah implemented the three-day weekend for state employees. After 10 months, the companies were able to save approximately 1.8 million dollars in energy costs. The three-day weekends have also shown a 9-percent decrease in employees asking for time off requests. This system is known throughout the world and is implemented in places like Japan, France and Sweden and is continuing to grow. Other benefits include being able to bring more women who have children into the workforce, as they almost have equal time within the week for work and their children. This helps companies not lose very exciting and intelligent workers due to their family commitments.
Many people might be weary of having three-day weekends implemented as they assume that the less hours employees work, the less work is being done. Past a certain time limit, we see employees flatline in their work, or worst-case scenario, their work becomes inconsistent as time goes on in their work days. If companies push employees beyond their ability to concentrate and work to their full capability, then you will have less good quality production and the employees will acquire some bad habits. Companies want, or at least should want, a happy set of employees that enjoy coming into work and applying their trade during the work week. Knowing this does not take any special algorithms or experiments, it is common sense.
This article is not a plea for employees just getting more family time, down time with friends or simply less work hours — this article is all about being able to live a more balanced life. The more balance, the more progression. And the more progression, the more money for the company, the happier the employees. In the end, it is a win-win situation for all parties. If some large companies begin to implement this technique aside from KFC, Google and Amazon, we might be able to see a large shift in federal laws changing the mandatory full-time work requirements. Work is an important part of life, a type of ethic that people live for, something I hope many of you are passionate about if you are in the field of your choice. But work is just that, a part of your life. Employees do not deserve to be overworked to the point they are risking their health as well as not giving their all to their work. Let us take the steps necessary to balance workers' lives, giving them the right to enjoy everything in moderation. I firmly believe that productivity will rise, the United States will drastically rise in the world health and happiness index and a new era of positive and energetic work environments will begin.
Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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