We need a four day week!

How many people today are aware of the reason behind the Labour Day holiday known as Eight Hours Day in Tasmania and MayDay in Tasmania? As recorded in https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/australia/labour-day ‘During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and arduous, where some employees would work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.’ From 1856 to 1873 with the action of Australian workers, agreements were made around the country to win an 8 hour work day (48 over a week) and marches to celebrate this improvement to workers lifestyles and work hours have been held ever since on Labour Day.

However it is now 2019, 150 years later and what progress have we really made? How many are still working 48 hours a week, maybe more hours than 48?

As a semi retired person I have time to reflect and do all the things that I was not able to do in full time work. I am healthier, more energetic, enjoy many varied pursuits, can take long weekends, enjoy travel. I believe consequently I have better social and emotional health than ever before. On the flip side I see younger people trying to balance work, families, friends, health and struggling and business and industry floundering.

Isn’t it time that we came a lot smarter as a society to manage our workforce. Imagine how a 4 day week would work? I know there are some forward thinking employers who are already trying this with good results. But let’s imagine if the normal for full time work was 4 days!

Benefits for workers – obviously more personal time, time to consider and prepare healthier food habits, time for exercise, more time with family and friends, opportunities to do things that give them more pleasure if their work does not satisfy them, time to volunteer and contribute to the community.

Benefits for employers – less sick days and employees should have better social and emotional health. Less tension and stress in the workplace, more harmonious employee relationships.

Benefits for society and the economy – more people in work so less unemployment benefits and social problems associated with unemployment, infrastructure like roads and public transport managed better since people have staggered work hours, childcare places more available and flexible as parent’s hours of work decrease so reduced funding to childcare, health system released from massive costs associated with physical and emotional illnesses caused by working too much or unemployment, the dwindling volunteer ‘army’ required to operate schools (canteens, reading support, maintenance working bees etc) and sporting clubs would be boosted as workers had greater availability and in a better ‘headspace’ to help out.

The ‘elephant in the room’ is of course how do we pay for this?! Working 4 days would see a drop in pay but with changing tax scales this could be minimised. Industry savings due to a more reliable healthier workforce should allow some pay increases to offset this. Government savings in healthcare and childcare could be given back in tax cuts to employees.

I am not an economist however in the 21st century I believe it is imperative that we consider changes to our traditional work styles that are based on an industrialised society of 100 years ago. We have new social problems caused by unemployment and underemployment of some, and the high expectations and overemployment of others. It is time that government and industry work together and become creative and innovative to meet the current and future needs of workers and families, our most precious resource. A four day week would be a good start!

2018 – small changes to lead to big successes

Over the next few days much will be written about New Year resolutions and how to be a better you in 2018. Many people start the year with new ideals and new year resolutions that usually just end up in disappointments and another example to them of why ‘ I am no good!’.

I believe the new year is a great opportunity to make a fresh start but it has to be done very carefully not to actually put you back even further in your quest to lead a more satisfying life. The key is to think small so that you can make and achieve a small change that becomes the foundation of more smaller changes leading to ultimately a big change overall. Once you have made a small change and it becomes part of your normal routine flushed with this success you can add another change…….and so it goes!

Lets look at some examples. Many of us want to make changes in Health, Relationships and Career so lets look at these three.

  1. Health – forget taking out the new expensive Health Club membership that you will probably forget about the first week or two! Think about one thing that is really getting in the way of your health. Is it too many drinks after work? Is it the sugar fix you crave in the afternoon? Is it being unable to get of the couch? Once you have identified one thing make your plan to change that. Maybe it is to have some alcohol free days? Maybe you need to take some savory snacks with you to work or wherever  you are tempted by the cake shops? Maybe park the car further away so you have to walk that bit further to and from work to add that little bit of exercise to your day?
  2. Relationships – maybe it is with your kids or your partner that you feel things could be better. Once again try and focus on the root of the problem.
  • Is it that terrible drama about the messy bedroom that starts the arguments with the kids?
  • Is it a friend that keeps interfering with the relationship you have with your partner?
  • Is there an annoying habit that you or your partner has that seems to set things off?
  • Think logically about this and see where you can make a small change to minimise this issue. Maybe rearrange the kids bedroom with them so that it is easier for them to keep tidy, maybe just expect that one day a week it will be tidied up together , the rest of the time ignore it! Maybe a frank discussion with partner or friend to make a truce!

3. Career – this is the one where I am probably best qualified to give some ideas! Not happy at your current work? Don’t have a job or enough hours? Current work is poorly paid or not challenging or too stressful or you don’t like the other staff or don’t like the management or you think they don’t like you? There are many reasons why we can feel frustrated at work.

Often a change of attitude towards work can make a big difference and this can be a small change that can easily pick up speed. Think about your own attitude and see where you can change – what if you put in more effort? what if you didn’t take work home with you? what if you had a friendly but firm discussion with whoever is troubling you or in a position to change the work and/or the work environment? what if you smiled more? what if you got to work a little earlier each day so you could start in a good frame of mind? I am sure you can think of other small changes that might improve the day to day.

But then maybe a bigger change is necessary  – like a different job, a promotion, a total career change so what are the small changes you can make to build towards that big change? Start putting together all your previous experience and skills into a draft resume, even if you may need professional resume help later by thinking through what you have done and putting information together you can save a lot of time and money later. Start talking to people in other jobs – what do they do, what do they like or not like about that job? Research the many careers website – www.myfuture.edu.au Consider some vocational testing to see what your top abilities are and how they may be best used. Go to Career Expos and talk to trainers, educators and other employment agencies. Locate a career professional and arrange an appointment.

All these small actions can not only lead you on to more and more changes they will give you a feeling of success as you achieve some practical changes. You are taking charge of your journey through life not letting it take you!

May you make some small but amazing changes in 2018 that will really impact on your future and lead to amazing big changes!!

Enid Stein

Careers Practitioner