Working a reduced schedule- something like a 30-hour work week- is often touted as a good alternate for working parents. Employees get reduced pay for reduced work, but keep their benefits. The employer keeps the employee, reducing turnover. What’s not to like?
In practice, a 30-hour work week hardly ever works out well. The employee has “outed” themselves as a less-dedicated employee, and the politics of the workplace often mean that those working on a “reduced schedule” see their hours and expectations expand back to 40-50 hours or more. So, you have the downside of being stigmatized and getting less pay, but you wind up still doing your original amount of work. frustration mounts. Employees quit.
When I heard about Amazon’s reduced hours experiment, I was initially skeptical. After learning more, however, I think that they’ve been smart in how they set up the program, minimizing the downsides. Their example has lessons for managers and working parents. I analyze Amazon’s 30-hour work week in my latest article for Harvard Business Review. I think it’s worth a read. Click the link or on the picture below for the full article.
If their experiment proves successful, it is likely that other firms will start adopting similar policies. This could mean better employment options for working parents. More broadly, it can also lead to an increased recognition that everyone’s priorities are different and there should be more than one path for career and life success.
What do you think about a 30-hour work week and other alternatives for working parents? Any stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments.
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