For decades now, pulling a 40 hour week has been intertwined in the American dream. A student goes to college, graduates and enters the 9-5 system.
You get to work in the morning, work until evening, go home to unwind, and after working for three decades, you go on to retire and pick on a hobby like golfing or gardening.
The 40 hour week is deeply engraved in the American society that immigrants observe excruciating hours for years just to make sure their children can get educated and enrolled into the 40 hour week system.
Country band “Alabama,” noticed how this system works and wrote a song “40 Hour Week (For A Livin’)” to salute all blue-collar workers in the American society.
A majority of salaried employment positions in the US pay are based on a 40 hour week. Any work put in over the 40 hours is considered as overtime.
Below we discuss the most intricate questions such as:
1890s the year when the US government started tracking work hours. It was determined that a majority employees worked 100 hours averagely on a weekly basis.
The 14.5 daily hours in the seven days of the week was found to take a toll on a majority of workers due to the gruelling and exhausting man hours.
In 1906, two of the biggest print companies instituted an eight-hour workday.
Congress passed the Adamson Act in early 1916 which demanded that domestic railroad workers observe an eight-hour workday. In 1917, the Supreme Court constitutionalized the Adamson Act.
To popularise the sale of their vehicles, Ford Company instituted a 40-hour workweek allowing employees to enjoy driving to the countryside in their Ford vehicles on Saturdays and Sundays making the car brand attractive.
Economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s predicted that within the century, workers would result in pulling 15 hours work weeks, he was puzzled how people would keep busy with just 15 work hours each week.
However, his prediction didn’t hold water as studies show that workers are pulling in more hours at their jobs as opposed to fewer hours. More people are working 47 hours every week, amounting to an extra full workday in the 40-hour work week.
40 percent of the workforce reports that they pull 50 plus hours at work each week. Salaried positions are the main culprits of the increase in hours. Workers are forced to pull in more hours to get the job done before getting paid.
Hence why there are differences between salaried workers who work an averagely 49 hours weekly with permanent hourly workers who push in 44 hour work days.
Is The 40 Hour Workweek Viable?
Daniel Cook’s “Rules of productivity” book shows how working for more than 40 hours a week in a month lowers productivity. Numerous studies indicate that 40 hour weeks maximize productivity.
Contrary to popular belief, 40-hour work weeks are the most efficient as it allows workers to rest and increases their productivity.
To maximize productivity workers are encouraged to cut down their hours by following simple rules such as minimizing workplace distractions, focusing on challenging projects during peak hours and minimizing time spent on reading and responding to email and social media.