HR News: 5 Hour Workday Experiment a Success?

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Most of companies swear by the eight hour workday, but a European company is calling the concept into question by instituting a five hour workday.  Also making HR News headlines, a new study from Yale University says recruiters can discriminate against potential job candidates after just speaking with them for seven seconds and workers continue to either experience or witness discrimination in the workplace.

HR News

5-Hour Workday Experiment a Success?

Would you prefer to work a five hour workday? 

Rheingans Digital Enabler says it’s testing whether a 25 hour workweek is better than a 40 hour workweek.  In order to conduct the experiment, the German company made several changes to the company workday. 

  • Employees begin work at 8a and end work at 1p.
  • Small talk has been discouraged.
  • Social media during work hours has been banned.
  • Smartphones are to be put away and not used during office hours.

Additionally, the company asks that meetings are scheduled for no more than 15 minutes.  Also, employees are only allowed to check their company email accounts twice a day.

Cutting hours typically means cutting back wages and vacation time.  Not the case for Rheingans.  Company leaders left salaries and vacation times untouched.

So far, the company says it has seen increases in productivity.  Despite the shortened workday, output has not been impacted.  In fact, it’s held consistent with output from the 40-hour work week.  The company says they’ve seen more in profit since moving to this flexible model and they’ve been able to use it as a recruiting tool to source new talent.

According to InsideHook who sourced The Wall Street Journal, company owner Lasse Rheingans says the experiment has changed the way people work in the office.

“We sit in the office, out of energy, reading newspapers online or Facebook, just in need of the little pauses to recharge, but you don’t really recharge,” Rheingans says. “My idea is focusing on the first five hours and then just leave, and have a proper break.”

Study:  Recruiters Discriminate Based on Speech

A new study from Yale University shows recruiters decide whether or not they are going to hire a prospective employee within the first seven seconds of talking to the candidate.  According to a press release from Yale, a recruiter can determine the candidate’s socioeconomic position based on how the person speaks.  Researchers say recruiters are influenced by this and, as a result, favor job applicants from higher social classes.

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"Our study shows that even during the briefest interactions, a person's speech patterns shape the way people perceive them, including assessing their competence and fitness for a job," said Michael Kraus, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management. "While most hiring managers would deny that a job candidate's social class matters, in reality, the socioeconomic position of an applicant or their parents is being assessed within the first seconds they speak -- a circumstance that limits economic mobility and perpetuates inequality."

Majority of Employees Witness Discrimination at Work

Glassdoor says three in five U.S. workers have either experienced or witnessed discrimination at work.  A new study from the company says discrimination is often based on age, gender, race or sexual identity.  Of those, ageism seems to be the form of discrimination most often seen.  45 percent of respondents say they’ve seen discrimination or been discriminated against based on their age.  Other results show:

  • 42% have experienced or seen racism in the workplace.
  • 42% have experienced or seen gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • 33% have experienced or seen LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace.

According to a press release from Glassdoor, chief people officer Carina Cortez says company cultures need to celebrate and respect workers’ diversity.

“Employees must feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work, without the fear of prejudice or ridicule, whether intentional or not. It’s critical for employers to actively listen to how their employees feel about what it’s like to work at their company. More importantly, employers must be willing and ready to take action to foster a workplace environment in which all people feel they belong.”

Glassdoor also broke numbers down based on who feels discrimination more:  younger or older workers and men or women.  Read the full press release here.


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