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The shorter working day with no lunch break makes employees happier and more productive

  Foto: / Unsplash (CC)

Foto: / Unsplash (CC)

Anna Torres Garrote
Flexible work measures reduce absenteeism and improve the reputation of the company

During the summer months, many companies offer their employees the possibility to work a shorter working day, usually from 8 am to 3 pm, another measure of what is referred to as the emotional salary. According to a study by the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), six out of ten workers would choose a shorter working day with no lunch break, and one in three say they are unable to balance their personal and professional life because their work hours take up the entire day.

According to UOC experts in human resources, it is precisely the issue of having time for the family and for leisure that employees with this shorter working day value the most. «They feel happier and more satisfied because they perceive a good balance between the different areas of their lives,» explains Gina Aran, course instructor of the UOC Master's Degree in Human Resources Administration and Management. For her part, Eva Rimbau, professor of the UOC Faculty of Economics and Business and an expert in flexible working, adds that companies who offer this emotional salary to their employees «increase their motivation", at a lower cost than a «salary increase» would represent.

Flexible working not only benefits the employees, but the company too. Various studies reveal that happy workers perform better; consequently the shorter working day with no lunch break has the knock-on effect of increasing the company’s productivity. «The management of time and the organization of tasks is more efficient», Aran says.

She also argues that the shorter working day can also favour a «reduction in absenteeism and accident rates» and will become an element of employer branding for the organization that will make it more attractive as a workplace destination, thus giving it a better reputation.

The culture of being present vs. results

In spite of this, the shorter working day with no lunch break is not very widespread in Spain because of a deeply-entrenched culture of being present, which leads to spending a certain number of hours in the office. «There is still the perception that it is more productive to work in terms of hours than in terms of targets», Rimbau says. This is why companies need to «establish a culture of responsibility based on results and on meeting targets», she explains. Despite this perception, especially in relation to how we view our colleagues, the fact is that 86% of Spanish and 73% of European employees think that their lives would improve if they could work more flexibly.

Teleworking also increases company productivity

Companies also benefit from teleworking. According to a study on the effectiveness of this measure, companies «perceive that it increases productivity, retains employees, reduces employee turnover, strengthens their commitment to the organization and improves the performance of people», Rimbau says. If we add to this a cost saving of €1,200 per employee per year, it is no surprise that «teleworking is on the increase and there is no reason to think this will not continue».

The experts conclude that job flexibility is a factor that has a positive influence on productivity and on the commitment of the employee, although it is not the only one. Human resources policies need to focus on balancing work life with personal life, on flexible working hours, on recognizing the work done by the boss, on a certain degree of autonomy, on a good working environment, and on the possibility of training and personal development within the company. With these measures, employees will be «more motivated and more productive», Rimbau concludes.

UOC experts

Photograph of Eva Rimbau Gilabert

Eva Rimbau Gilabert

Expert in: Human resources, telecommuting, virtual teams, flexible work, leadership, evidence-based management, and e-learning.

Knowledge area: Human resources.

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