I while back I did an interview with professor Benjamin Hunnicutt about his new book called “Free Time – The Forgotten American Dream.” My favorite thing from our chat was his story of what happened at the Kellogg’s factory during the great depression in the ’30s.
Instead of laying people off, they changed to 6-hour shifts, so the workers kept their jobs but everyone worked fewer hours. The result:
The company found that the shorter workday influenced employees to work harder and more efficiently. The results included drastic reductions in overhead costs, labor costs, and the number of work-related accidents. Unit cost of production “is so lowered we can afford to pay as much for six hours as we formerly paid for eight,” Kellogg boasted in a newspaper in 1935.
Fascinating. And a good reminder, yet again, that working 80 hours a week may actually be lowering productivity and performance.