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每日跟讀#520: In Sweden, Happiness in a Shorter Workday Can't Overcome the Cost

太昂貴的快樂 瑞典實驗每天工作6小時

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English
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每日跟讀#520: In Sweden, Happiness in a Shorter Workday Can't Overcome the Cost

A controversial experiment with a six-hour workday in one of Sweden’s largest cities wrapped up this week with a cheerful conclusion: Shorter working hours make for happier, healthier and more productive employees.

There’s just one catch. The practice is too expensive and unwieldy to become widespread in Sweden anytime soon.

把工時減為6小時的一項爭議性實驗,上個月在瑞典最大城市之一結束,得到了愉悅的結論:較短的工時使員工更快樂、更健康,也更有生產力。

只有一個但書。這種作法太昂貴也太不方便,短時間內難以拓展到瑞典全國。

The two-year trial, which took place in the southern city of Gothenburg, centered on a municipal retirement home where workers were switched to a six-hour day, from eight hours, with no pay cut. Seventeen new nursing positions were created to make up for the loss of time, at a cost of around 700,000 euros, or $738,000, a year.

Although it was small, the experiment stoked a widespread discussion about the future of work, namely whether investing in a better work-life balance for employees, and treating workers well rather than squeezing them, benefits the bottom line for companies and economies.

這項為期兩年的試驗在瑞典南部哥特堡市一處市立養老院進行,員工從每天上班8小時變成6小時,薪水不變。養老院增加了17個養護職缺以填補工時減少導致的人力缺口,每年支出約增加70萬歐元,合73.8萬美元(台幣2304萬元)。

這項實驗雖然規模不大,卻引發對未來工作的廣泛討論,亦即是否投資於改善員工工作與生活的平衡,善待員工而非壓榨他們,會給企業和經濟帶來根本的好處。

“The trial showed that there are many benefits of a shorter working day,” said Daniel Bernmar, the leader of the Left party on Gothenburg’s City Council, which had pushed for the experiment. “They include healthier staff, a better work environment and lower unemployment.”

But the high price tag, and political skepticism about the practicality of a shorter workday, was likely to discourage widespread support for taking the concept nationwide.

“The government is avoiding talking about the issue,” Mr. Bernmar said. “They’re not interested in looking at the bigger picture.”

大力推動這項實驗的哥特堡市市議會左派黨領袖貝恩馬說:「這項試驗顯示較短工時有許多好處,包括更健康的員工、更好的工作環境、更低的失業率。」

然而由於成本太高,政界又對短工時的實用性抱持懷疑態度,很可能使這項實驗推廣到全境遭受阻力。

貝恩馬說:「政府避談這個議題。他們也無意放大眼界來看這件事。」

While a growing number of countries and companies are studying the concept of employee happiness, the idea of improving it through shorter work hours has by no means gained broad traction. In Gothenburg, the City Council’s conservative opposition parties derided the experiment as a utopian folly and sought to kill it, citing high costs for taxpayers and arguments that the government should not intrude in the workplace. The current government is also not backing a shorter workweek.

Even the handful of progressive political groups aligned with Mr. Bernmar’s Left party have not made a six-hour workday in Sweden a priority in their platforms. Nor have large Swedish companies, including multinationals active around the world, embraced the idea. Other Swedish towns that previously conducted limited experiments with a shorter public-sector workweek eventually abandoned the concept, citing high costs and flawed implementation.

儘管研究員工幸福這個概念的國家和企業愈來愈多,透過縮減工時來加以改善的點子卻尚未獲得廣泛迴響。在哥特堡市,市議會保守派反對黨嘲笑這項實驗是烏托邦式的愚行並試圖扼殺它,理由是納稅人負擔太重,以及政府不應干預職場。瑞典政府也不支持縮短每周工作時數。

就連與貝恩馬的左派黨結盟的數個進步政治團體,也未將6小時工時列為最重要黨綱。瑞典各大企業,包括活躍於全球的跨國公司,也不熱中於這個點子。另有一些瑞典城鎮曾在公部門實施縮短每周工時的實驗,但最後都放棄這種做法,因為成本太高且執行上也有問題。

Source:https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/310747/web/

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