Millennials across the U.S. can attest to the strain the average five-day or more workweek can put on their mental and physical health. With 70% admitting to living paycheck to paycheck, and 26% working two or more jobs, millennials are working harder than ever.
Personally, as a millennial, I have 3 freelance gigs, a building associate position, and a receptionist position at a local Spa, all while attending online college, and I still struggle to make ends meet.
With a whopping 23 million young adults still living at home, some to save money for a down payment for their home, others searching for the ability to gain more traveling experience, and time to focus on their values, now may be the time to rethink the extent of the average work week.
A quick examination of leisure time and a comparison of working hours between generations shines some light on why a workload revolution should be considered in the current day.
Does the Cost of Living Leave Any Room for Leisure Time?
Millennials, as well as Gen Xers, have often gotten a lot of flak from Boomers who think Millennials are lazy, complain too much and think we just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and work hard. But we should consider the fact that people work a lot more in 2023, with the current average worker reaching 1,779 hours a year, compared to the 50s, 60s, and 70s, when it was about 100 hours less.
We should also take time to consider that people are also working more because everything is costing more, and the added layer of more demand for workers to do more, for at times less pay, adds more complexity to the conversation as well. A fairly recent Governing article points out that, “workers’ wages aren’t set to recover their loss of total purchasing power until at some point in the fourth quarter of 2024.”
Simply put, because our purchasing power is a lot less, many people must work more to make basic ends meet.
Potential for Leisure: The Four-Day Work Week
Taking notes from other countries’ experimentation with a four-day workweek has the potential for American employers to consider adding leisure time to the working model here in the U.S. Considering the benefits of the four day workweek model not only has the potential to make employees happier, but employers as well.
Belgium, which was the first country in Europe to legislate a four-day work week, allows workers to decide if they want to work four or five days a week for the same pay. In the UK, 60 companies experimented with the four-day week test as well. Researchers found improvement in the health and well-being of employees, a significant increase in physical and mental health, and overall life and job satisfaction. As a result, many of the companies made it permanent.
Likewise, Germany recently announced a four-day work pilot and Portugal is also testing out the four-day work week as well. In America, a CNBC report found that a four-day workweek would allow workers extra time for mental health habits, reducing things like work stress and increasing things like time with family and sleep.
While a few kinks may need to be worked out to make room for such a change, the benefits of allowing workers more time for rest and employers the gift of more productivity, and more, may still be a compromise worth considering.
With burnout at an all time high, creating a better working model may benefit not just one side but all.
Article featured photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash.