Are Millennials Redefining How We View the Work Week?

We’ve been hearing stories about the “flexible work week” from countries around the globe for quite some time. The concept of compressed work weeks is no longer for European countries now however, as Millennials lead the charge towards the concept of a more flexible work environment that starts with ending the concept of a 9 to 5 job.

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Millenials and the redefinition the work week

Millenials and the redefinition the work week

Here’s a few things to know about the work week and our traditional concept of what defines work hours:

  • Millennials aren’t just demanding that employers create a more flexible work week and schedule—they’re creating it for themselves, and they’re doing it through the opportunities found in freelancing and self-employment. According to Freelancer.com, the economy of freelancing has grown exponentially in the past few years.
  • Along with the personal preference for a unique work schedule, according to Forbes, it’s also a necessity for many employees still struggling in today’s challenging economic environment. Many workers, Millennial and otherwise, are forced to work more than one job to make ends meet, which means they need to have a flexible schedule that allows them to have that second job.
  • Finally, work week and schedule flexibility are something that Millennials are putting at the top of their priority list when it comes to potential employers. Millennial Branding, a research and consulting firm focusing solely on the habits and preferences of Gen Y, found Millennial employees are willing to sacrifice a little when it comes to pay, in order to have a more flexible workplace environment in terms of schedule.

Despite the desire of Millennials and employees from other generations to work in an environment where flexibility and the compressed work week are a possibility, many businesses are reluctant to accept the concept.

One reason is simple—our cultural norms here in the U.S. tend to view the compressed work week as something for people who lack initiative or who don’t want to work “full-time.” Despite the fact that it’s easy to fit a 40-hour workday into four days, there’s a lot of hesitance because it doesn’t fit with what we see in America as the type of work style and ethic required to get ahead. That may be a cultural shift that’s nearly impossible to make, although with the difficulty employers are having recruiting and retaining Millennials, it may be a shift that becomes a necessity.

It’s also hard for many employers to see the real benefit of providing a compressed work week, or other scheduling options like telecommuting, in terms of their bottom line.

Even if a business owner or managers of a company can see how there would be benefits in terms of productivity and efficiency with a different work schedule style, they also see that it can add intricacies and complexity to scheduling and balancing the work load of employees.

Also, from an even more technical standpoint, in some states if an employer gave their employee a three-day weekend every week, but they worked four 10-hour days a week instead, the employer would be required to pay overtime for those days.

Ultimately, if you’re considering implementing a flexible or compressed work week into your business, think about the following:

  • Make flexible truly mean flexible. Provide opportunities for shorter work weeks and more flexibility in scheduling, but also make it part of your policy that when necessary, employees may have to forego that flexibility in order to get certain projects done.
  • Determine which of your positions and employees can realistically work this kind of schedule. There are some jobs and employees that simply aren’t realistically going to be able to take advantage of a compressed work week or a flexible schedule.
  • This type of flexibility can be offered as something that’s part of a compensation package as an employee is promoted or spends more time at a company. Some employers find that it’s best for new employees to work a traditional schedule until they’ve gained a full understanding of their position and the company, and then as they earn more trust and responsibility, it can be something used as a retention strategy.

What do you think about the compressed work week and flexible scheduling? Is it something you’d like to see adopted more broadly here in the U.S., or do you think it has the potential to spell trouble for our economy?

September 24, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015   managing millennials   
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    Maybe it’s the 40 hour work week that needs to change too? Rewind a few centuries ago, people used to work 10-18 hours a day, 6 days a week doing hard labor by hand. Now they have technology and machines to do the work at much better efficiency. With all the technological advances lately, we should be working less. Instead of clinging to this 40 hour work week that people have been indoctrinated into accepting no other alternatives.

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