There is one thing getting in the way of workers’ happiness, and its name is 'Wednesday'…
Last week, I attended Innovative Learning 2013: an event at which experts gathered to discuss how technological breakthroughs are impacting education. During the course of the event, participating speakers touched upon everything from MOOCs to asset sharing
. However, one thing that CIPD’s Gill White said really stuck in my mind.
I’m not suggesting some wishy-washy compromise whereby we stay at home on Wednesdays...I’m talking about erasing Wednesdays from the calendar. Ideally, I would like them to be removed from the history books.
In her keynote speech, White detailed the quest to create a culture of continuous learning and development
: the ‘learning organisation’. With the right approach, she argued, the creation of such a company is perfectly possible, if a little difficult.
Towards the end of her presentation, White considered the importance of ‘happiness’ in this quest. Essentially, happy people are more likely to engage in continuous learning and development than their disillusioned peers. As White put it, "A happy mindset means that we will be successful."
The pursuit of happiness
This got me thinking about what industry might do to promote happiness amongst workers. Introduce higher salaries? Well, it would certainly be a start but as we all know, money can’t buy me happiness.* Kinder bosses? Again, this would clearly be a good strategy, but there are already plenty of terrific bosses out there.**
So, what is the one corporate factor that everybody cites as the source of their unhappiness? What is it that – no matter where you go – workers consistently complain about? I’ll tell you what: it’s the lack of a healthy work-life balance. If people had more free time, they would be happier; that is a scientific*** fact.
Now, there are several problems with this idea, the main one being the current economic environment. It’s difficult enough as it is for companies to make ends meet without calls for fewer workdays. The counter argument, of course, is that a happier workforce is a more productive workforce. The problem, it seems to me, is striking a happy medium.
I have heard plenty of people suggest the introduction of a four-day working week/three-day weekend. This is a nice idea but it just isn’t feasible. If we extended the weekend to include Friday or Monday, working hours – based on a five-day working week – would fall by a whopping 20 per cent. This, I’m afraid, is never going to happen.
Alternatively, you might suggest the introduction of an extra public holiday. This would certainly be a bonus, but would it be sufficient to increase public happiness throughout the year? I think not.
A radical solution
Not to worry; I have the answer. Granted, it’s revolutionary, but radical problems require radical solutions. The time has come for us to abolish Wednesdays.
You heard me! I’m not suggesting some wishy-washy compromise whereby we stay at home on Wednesdays. As I’ve explained, industry simply wouldn’t go for that. I’m talking about erasing Wednesdays from the calendar. Ideally, I would like them to be removed from the history books altogether.
Just take a moment to conceive of my utopian vision: a four-day working week/two-day weekend. In one stroke, we would shorten the working week whilst maintaining the traditional weekend. Rather than losing 52 workdays per year, industry would lose just 16. Workers win due to the increased frequency of rest periods and business wins due to there being more weeks in the year.****
The beauty of this system is that all of the units that really
matter to timekeeping – the respective durations of hours, days and years – could stay exactly as they are. We’re simply dividing them up in a more effective manner.
'Say goodbye to Wednesdays'
If we say goodbye to Wednesdays, happiness will increase thus driving a rise in productivity. Companies will win and workers will win. Let’s not be modest; humanity will win!
In truth, it doesn’t have to be Wednesday that we abolish. I just don’t particularly like Wednesdays. Nothing really happens on a Wednesday; it’s neither here nor there. However, as this is my idea, I think it’s only fair that we go with my choice.
Make people happy: abolish Wednesdays. Just think; if we’d done this already, today would be Thursday and tomorrow would be the last day of the week.
Such a small sacrifice, and yet it could bring so much joy to the world...
* Close, Sir Paul, but no cigar
** It would be both remiss and against my brown-nosing nature not to name-check @LCarnwell at this point
**** Approximately 61 in total