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2014联考英语阅读:工作时间越短,效率越高?

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2014年08月22日 【我要咨询】 】 来源:清大在线

  Andrew Bauer needed a way to invigorate his staff working the production line.

  “I used to have them working up to nine or 10 hours a day,” said Bauer, chief executive officer of Royce Leather in Secaucus, New Jersey, in the US, which makes wallets, luggage and other leather accessories.

  But the longer his employees worked, the more their productivity declined. So last year, after taking over the company from his father, Bauer cut the workday of his 15-person assembly line by two to three hours, depending on the position. Workers still received the standard breaks, including 45 minutes for lunch.

  Bauer’s goal was to boost efficiency, not to cut payroll. On the contrary, he increased the team’s compensation by 15%.

  Switching to a seven-hour workday paid off: output went up, with the line churning out 10% to 15% more merchandise each day. Plus, he added, his staff — many of whom have been with the company one to three decades — appreciated getting home earlier.

  Shorter workdays have made headlines lately, thanks to Gothenburg, Sweden. On 1 July, the city began a year-long experiment with six-hour days, enlisting a segment of government employees to work less than their eight-hour-a-day counterparts, for the same pay.

  The hope is that staffers working shorter days will accomplish just as much, only with more efficiency and less calling in sick. It’s a nice idea, but will it — and other efforts to shorten hours in the office — work?

  The grand productivity experiment

  Studies of past attempts by various countries to trim employees’ workdays have yielded conflicting results.

  Last year, research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported in The Economist showed that the more people worked, the more their productivity tapered off.

  But South Korean research detailed in the Journal of Happiness Studies last year found that employees appreciated shorter workdays in theory only. In practice, researchers found, the country’s 2004 workday reduction from 44 hours to 40 — and a declaration of Saturdays as an official day off — didn’t do much to improve workers’ job satisfaction or overall happiness. Instead, having less time to tackle the same workloadincreased their stress. The workload, it turned out, for these already-efficient employees was simply too high to get done in fewer hours.

  And back in 2005, Sweden’s Kiruna district council ended a 16-year-run of mandated six-hour workdays for 250 employees, claiming the programme cost too much and was too unwieldy to manage. According to the council, managing two different sets of employee work schedules — the six-hour day and the eight-hour day — had grown too complicated. The European news site The Local also reported that at a similar experiment a hospital in Stockholm created resentment among employees whose schedules hadn’t been reduced.

  Whether reduced workdays succeed may have more to do with the type of work performed, the workload and the managers overseeing it than the country or company making the change. Part of the problem is that one work schedule won’t necessarily fit all employees or job descriptions, said Cali Williams Yost, a workplace strategist based in Madison, New Jersey.

  “In a competitive global economy, I find these one-size-fits-all, strict models are hard to maintain to the letter,” said Williams Yost, author ofTweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day.

  When shorter workdays don’t work

  Kenny Kline of MedPreps can vouch for that. In 2012, Kline trimmed the workday of 20 full-time employees he’d hired to write practice questions for medical certification exams, keeping their salaries intact. The four-month experiment was a failure.

  Giving employees only six hours a day to devise test questions instead of the customary eight changed the company culture for the worse, said Kline, co-founder of the St Louis, Missouri-based company, which sells medical exam preparation materials in the US.

  “People definitely worked harder and we ended up getting more out of them,” Kline said. “But they wouldn’t interact with each other at all. And they were a lot less happy at work.”

  Without much time for lunch or other breaks, the camaraderie his staff once enjoyed ground to a halt. What’s more, Kline said, employees were too mentally drained at the end of the day.

  “People felt a lot more burned out working six hours a day just because of the intensity,” Kline said.

  Royce Leather’s Bauer can relate to the need for some people to put in more time to be more productive. At the same time that he reduced his production team’s workday, he gave his 20-person product development and design staff a pay bump and encouraged them to start working 10 hours a day instead of their customary eight. The idea was for them to create and collaborate on ideas at a more leisurely pace.

  “The time increase has definitely made the office a lot more relaxed,” Bauer said. “There’s not as much stress, which definitely makes everyone a lot more productive.”

  In praise of flexibility

  For a shorter workday to succeed, companies have to treat the change in office hours as a guideline that can be adapted to meet various employee and business needs, not a rigid rule, Williams Yost said.

  For example, she said, “What about business that has to get done in time zones during the hours the workplace is closed?” And what of companies who pile 40 hours of work on employees who only have 30 paid hours in which to get the job done?

  For Jody Greenstone Miller, whose 75-person in-house staff includes people who’ve chosen to work 10, 20, 30 or 40 hours a week (for commensurate pay), knowing how long each assigned task takes is key.

  “As a manager, you have to make sure people don’t work too much,” said Greenstone Miller, chief executive officer and co-founder of Business Talent Group, a consulting firm with five US offices and clients throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America. “Because if they work too much, they end up being dissatisfied,” she said.

  Debbie Carreau, chief executive officer and founder of Calgary, Alberta-based Inspired HR Ltd, agrees. To prevent “workweek creep” — and as an example to the dozens of Canadian and US companies her human resources firm serves — Carreau’s 12-person team handles the bulk of their work between 9:00 and 15:00. After that, the team goes home but stays on call, often fielding emergency messages one or two hours a night from clients dealing with on-the-job accidents, performance issues and resignations.

  “People are not productive after a 37-hour week,” Carreau said. “More does not mean better.”

  查看译文

  安德鲁·鲍尔(Andrew Bauer)需要一种能让生产线工人精力充沛的方法。

  “我过去常常让他们一天保持工作9或10个小时。”鲍尔说道。他是美国纽泽西州斯考克斯市罗伊斯皮革公司的执行总裁。该公司专做钱包,皮箱和其他皮革配饰。

  但是他的员工工作时间越长,他们的生产率就越低。所以自从去年鲍尔从他的父亲手上接管了公司后,他利用职权将15人生产线的工时缩短了两到三个小时。工人们仍然有标准休息时间,包括吃午饭的45分钟。

  鲍尔的目的是为了提高效率,而不是减少工资。相反,他增加了小组15%的补贴。

  转变成一天七个小时的支付方式:产量提高了,生产线每天都多生产10%-15%的商品。此外,他补充道,许多在公司里做了十到三十年的员工都为能早点回家心存感激。

  因为瑞典的哥德堡这个城市,更短的工作时长在最近成为了头条。在7月1日,这个城市开展了长达一年的一天工作六小时的实验。它招募了一些政府员工,让他们在同样薪水条件下比一天工作八小时的同行工作更少的时间。

  其目的是希望工作更短时间的员工会完成一样多的任务,拥有更高的效率,更少人打电话请病假。这是一个很好的想法。但是缩短办公时间的努力真的有用吗?

  大型的生产率实验

  关于对在过去许多国家尝试减少员工工时的研究因为矛盾的结果而无疾而终。

  去年,一个来自经济合作与发展组织的研究出版在《经济学人》,其表明人们工作时间越长,他们的效率就越低。

  但是,去年详细刊登在《幸福研究杂志》的韩国研究发现,员工只是理论上对更短的时长表示感激。韩国在2004年的工作小时由44小时减少到40个小时,并且,宣布了星期六为官方假日,即便如此,也没有很大地提高员工工作的满意度或整体幸福感。相反,更少时间解决同样的工作量会增加他们的压力。结果证明,对于已经高效的员工来说,工作量太大是没法在更少的时间内完成。

  回顾2005年,瑞典基律纳地区委员会对250名员工中止了每天工作六小时的规定,该规定已执行了16年之久,其宣布该计划耗费太大,无法灵活管理。据委员会透露,要管理两组不同的员工工作时间太复杂了,一组是一天六个小时,另一组是八个小时。一家欧洲的新闻网站——瑞典地方网也报道过在斯德哥尔摩一家医院类似的实验,其引起了员工们的不满,因为他们的时间表没有减少。

  减少工作时长是否成功也许与工作的类型,工作量以及监督的经理有更多关系,而不是这个国家或公司做出的改变。部分问题出在单一的工作时间表不一定适合所有的员工和工作类型。卡利?威廉?约斯特(Cali Williams Yos)这样说道,他是新泽西州麦迪逊市的一名工厂顾问。

  “在充满竞争的全球经济中,我发现这些一刀切的精准模式很难保持到最后。”威廉?约斯特说道,他是《让重要的事每天上演》一书的作者。

  当更短工作时间无效的时候

  地中海预备学校的肯尼?克兰(Kenny Kline)可以证明这点。2012年,克兰在保持薪水不变的情况下,减少了20名全职员工的工作时间,他评聘这些员工来记录医学认证考试问题。然而,为期四个月的实验最终失败。

  只给员工一天六个小时而不是常规的八个小时来设计测试问题使得公司的文化变坏,克兰说道,他是密苏里州圣路易斯公司的合伙创办人,在美国专门出售医学考试的预备资料。

  他说:“人们绝对会更加勤奋工作,并且获得更多的效率,但是他们彼此之间完全不互动,他们在工作上少了很多快乐。”

  如果没有太多的午餐和休息时间,员工们曾经享受的同事友情就会终止。此外,克兰说,员工们在一天结束后会感到精疲力竭。

  “因为工作强度,人们觉得一天六个小时的工作更容易消耗殆尽。”克兰说。

  罗伊斯皮革公司的鲍尔也会协调一些人的需要,他们需要投入更多时间来提高效率。在他减少了生产队伍的工作时长的同时,他让20人研发产品,计划给员工加薪,鼓励他们开始不再常规工作8小时,而是10个小时。目的是为了让他们以更轻松的节奏来创新想法与合作。

  “时间的增加绝对能使办公室更加轻松,”鲍尔说,“没有那么多的压力,肯定使到每个人更加有创造力。”

  提倡灵活

  为了让更短的工作时长获得成功,公司必须使办公时间的改变成为一条适应不同员工和生意需求的指导原则,而不是一条死板的法则,威廉姆斯?约斯特说道。

  她说:“举个例子,如果有些业务必须在工厂关门之前的时间段内完成,那该如何?那么如果公司积累了40个小时的工作量给员工,而员工只能在给薪的30个小时内完成任务,那又该如何办?”

  乔迪?格林斯通?米勒(Jody Greenstone Miller)的机构拥有75人,其中包括选择一周工作10,20,30或者40小时的工人(获得相对应的报酬),知道每项任务所花的时间是关键。

  “作为一名经理,你必须确保员工不会工作过度,”格林斯通?米勒说道,她是商业人才公司的执行总裁和合伙创始人,该公司是一家咨询公司,拥有五家美国办事处,客户遍布欧洲,亚洲,澳大利亚,北美和南美。“因为如果他们工作过度,他们最终会不满,”她说。

  黛比?卡罗同意米勒的说法,他是(加拿大)亚伯达省卡尔加里市一家激励人力资源公司的执行总裁和创办人,为了避免工作时间效率低,作为其人力资源公司服务于十几家加拿大和美国公司的一个范例,卡罗12人小组是在9:00到15:00之间处理主要工作。之后,小组成员可以回家,但是要随时待命,经常一晚要处理一或两个小时来自客户紧急信息,要处理发生的事情,并执行命令。

  “人们在一周工作37个小时后会不再高效,”卡罗说,“更多并不意味着更好。”

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