Contrary to growing popular belief, the five-hour workday is not your friend.

One of the most interesting business stories I’ve heard this year comes out of a small city in Australia called Hobart. I think you’ll find it interesting too, but maybe not for the reasons some do.

A man named Jonathan Elliot runs a financial advisory firm, and at his office they recently made the shift to a 5-hour workday. The idea is based on the book by Stephan Aarstol called, unsurprisingly, The Five-Hour Workday. The idea is to take the original 8-hour workday pioneered by Henry Ford and slim it down to concentrate even more work into a finite space.

Here’s why Elliot wanted to make the move.

“People are more motivated than ever to hit and exceed their KPIs as no one wants to revert back to the old work hours. Sick leave has also fallen significantly, to the point where it is extremely unusual for team members to take a sick day. They now have more time to relax and care for their health and wellbeing and we are seeing the results of this change in higher levels of attendance at work and increased productivity.”

I’m all about innovation, and rethinking the way we do things is the bedrock of FPG. We’ve rethought the entire training industry and taken it from a bored, passive seminar-only model to a holistic, all-in-one behavioral change model that changes lives. But a five-hour workday isn’t innovation. It’s taking the easy way out.

The idea behind it is sound. On average we only get about 40% of the average worker’s productivity focused on their actual job tasks in a given week. The other 60% is lost to things like emails, unnecessary clerical work or just a productivity leak somewhere else. The theory is that, given the motivation of 5 hours instead of 8, people will naturally want to fill up more of that time with actual work. And so the 40% will rise.

That may happen initially, but over time that bump in productivity will inevitably settle back down to where it was before. I see it all the time with why-based seminar-only training models. Trainers come out, get you pumped up, feed into your “why,” and then leave you to it. For the first 30 days you see a performance spike. After 60 days, you’ve lost 80% of that spike, and after 90 you’re back to where you were before. And that’s not me talking. That’s Gallup research.

That’s why, by going to a 5-hour workday, your employees may love you but you’re actually doing something to them, not for them. You’re making their lives easier, not better. All you’re really doing is shrinking the window. Unless you’re training your team, all you’re really doing is taking that 40% of productivity over 8 hours and shrinking it to 40% productivity over 5 hours. And if you’re counting, that’s a 36% reduction in actual productive hours if you zoom out and look at the big picture. In Sweden, they’ve already ditched the 6-hour workday after the benefits were inconclusive.

In the end, you’re not really improving your productivity. You’re actually doing the opposite over time, whether you realize it or not.

Instead of following the fad and treating the symptom, you need to address the underlying issue. You don’t need to adjust the hours. You need to adjust the 40%.

That’s what our training programs do. We don’t focus on those quick fixes that only give you a rapid spike over short periods, like other training companies. We focus in on the actual beliefs and programming driving your people’s performance. So they’ll not only get more done in 8 hours than other companies do in 5. They’ll get more done than other companies can do in the same 8 hours. Doesn’t that sound like the better option?

The most successful companies don’t look at the working hours – all that’s doing is treating the surface-level symptoms. Instead, we look at the percentages behind the hours. So don’t slap on a bandaid. Remove the behavior that led to the bandaid in the first place.

The absolute best way to do that? FPG training programs. Whether you’re a sales warrior, a sales leader, or a customer service advocate, we’ll unleash you to become more and contribute more than ever before.

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