Study Shows Shorter Work Weeks Are More Beneficial for Mental Health

Islamabad (22nd June, 2019): New study reveals shorter work week and longer weekends are ideal for mental health.

According to Baaghi TV sources, researchers from the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom have launched a new project “Employment Dosage” to investigate if shorter work weeks are more beneficial for the physical and mental health of an individual.

Many countries around the world offer full-time employment as a 40-hours week. This is further divided into an 8 hour-day between Monday to Friday. There are also countries which are opting for a shorter work week such as, Belgium that offers a 38-hour week, or Norway that follows the pattern of 37.5-hours per week.

However, New Zealand went farther by trying a 32 hour week (4 days) in 2018. The results were remarkably positive for an individuals sense of overall well-being. Despite positive results there was little to none documented research.

Thereby the project launched by Cambridge University’s researchers is a welcoming step towards future possibilities.

Brendan Burchell, Ph.D. who has co-authored the research notes, that while we have studies to guide us in what is better for us be it from vitamins to how many hours of sleep, there is a gap in research regarding ones paid work.

In a study which is connected to the “Employment Dosage” project, Burchell and his colleagues have focused on the changes that occur when hours spent doing paid work are changed. The impact this change has on the mental health levels of life satisfaction in a person. This study was carried out on approximately 71,11 people within the UK between 2009 and 2018.

Previous research on the subject has helped infer that unemployment and a lack of financial stability is directly inked to stress which leads to poor mental health. Therefore, the purpose of this new study is to determine how many work hours lead to a positive outcome.

“We know unemployment is often detrimental to people’s well-being, negatively affecting identity, status, time use, and sense of collective purpose.” says Burchell. The new study analyses data from UK Household Longitudinal Study on nearly 71,000 people between the 16 to 64 demographics.

The study resulted in the following:

While a 40-hour work week boosted mental health for those who were newly appointed after unemployment, a 40-hour week did nothing to boost the mental health levels in those who were routinely working.

The latter held true for both men as well as women.

The researchers elaborated that while men reported an increase in levels of satisfaction when they worked for 16 hours or less per paid work week, women reported after working 20 hours per week.

The researchers further inferred that there could be a drastic change in work environment with the advent of better technology in the coming years.

Daiga Kamer, first study author and Ph.D. from Salford University in the UK remarks that in the next few decades much of the labour force could be replaced with “artificial intelligence, big data an robotics” therefore, our work dynamics would need to be changed accordingly:

“If there is not enough for everybody who wants to work full-time, we will have to rethink current norms. This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks”

The authors further concluded that cutting down work hours has the potential to improve people’s productivity.

Study co-author Senhu Wang commented that the traditional work model which makes everyone work around 40 hours or more per week, was “never based on how much work was good for people”.


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