Amazon Is Testing A 30-Hour Work Week For Some Employees And It Sounds Like Heaven

I think everyone can agree, especially as the summer ends and everything gets stupid busy again, that Americans work too much. So Amazon testing a 30-hour workweek program is sort of interesting. The 30-hour thing doesn’t seem to be about cutting hours in order to cut their costs, either, which is reassuring (though suspicious, right?) since the employees in the pilot program will still receive full benefits, even if they’re getting about 75 percent of their previous salary. When corporations cut hours to part time, usually those benefits go, too, so this seems to be about changing the work culture and keeping people from burning out. And really, when it comes between a tiny pay cut and your mental health, it’s always a trade off worth considering.

Amazon’s starting out slow, with just some employees in the HR department in the program so far — which is pretty crafty since the HR execs were probably the ones to suggest the program, but I digress. The workers will have hours Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and some additional flex hours throughout the week. According to The Washington Post, the new program is supposed to “create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth.”

Amazon EU S.a.r.L Headquarters in Luxembourg
CREDIT: JurgaR/iStock

Taking a pay cut for the short work week does kind of suck. Being broke can be just as stressful as being overworked and not getting to enjoy the extra cash. But other companies that have tried this have employees who are all for it. In Sweden, a nursing home cut workers’ hours down to 30 hours per week, with the same pay and it seemed to work perfectly. The New York Times concluded that the program in the first year “had sharply reduced absenteeism, and improved productivity and worker health.” An employee told The Guardian in a report about the program, “I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa. But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life.”

It makes total sense — if you get more time in the week to take care of your personal life, even just scheduling a dentist appointment without feeling guilty, and more rest, again guilt free, stress levels are bound to go down and the rate of burn out decrease.

Here in the U.S. though, so many industries demand a lot of their work force and it’s all gotten to a point where “the hustle” and being “sooooooo busy,” is almost a badge of honor. Maybe this less pay, less hours thing is better for older workers who also have families to attend to. Because as much as the freedom and mental health benefits of a 30-hour work week sounds like heaven, the temptation to stack cash while you’re young is sometimes just too strong.