It is well-established that our metabolic and other bodily functions start to decline once we reach a certain stage. This is generally marked at 40 – the time when we can actually say, ‘We are getting too old for this’ and our body will agree with us. We become slow, we can’t eat as much as we could have done in our late 20s or early 30s because our metabolism rate has deteriorated, and the body seems to become easily strained. But even then, we continue with our 5-day a week work pattern because our job demands it. And it might seem really unfair to many of us.
But while we are aware of the physical problems that occur with old age, what about our cognitive functions? A study published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series has now come forward answering exactly this question. It has been found that just like the deterioration of our bodily functions, our mind also undergoes certain changes. It does not respond to stress that well and it can lead to a decline in its functions too. In the study, 3500 female and 3000 male subjects were used. They were introduced to a barrage of cognitive tests including logic, pattern finding, etc. Pressure situations were created as well so as to see how they responded when the stress was increased or decreased. After a number of different permutations and combinations, the scientists have arrived at this conclusion – individuals who are above the age of 40 thrive best when they are working for three days a week.
According to the researchers, if any individual who is above 40 is pushed to work for more than 25 hours, then there might be a fall in their cognitive abilities. Part of this decline would, of course, depend on the kind of work that these individuals are doing, but this is a general estimate. Economists have declared this to be a special situation. Work in general stimulates the brain and it plays a major role in acting as a whetstone for your cognitive abilities. But if you push it too far, it will cause fatigue and other negative effects which decreases the power of proper cognition.
However, there is bad news for the people above 40. Many countries are trying to raise the age of retirement. The reason is clear – they want to delay the payment of pension which does not create any kind of productivity. Now, this is an actual problem as it indicates that there will be more elder people in the workforce than before, and they will be working for a long time. It will inherently harm their cognitive abilities. Since there is no call for the 3-day working week from any institution, we can believe that such a rule would not be bestowed upon the elder population. Not only is this harmful for the health of that specific demographic, but it is also harmful to the company.
Think about it – the company requires productivity. It needs to get the job done in the best possible way and keep up its quality. But it can only do so if the people working in the company are productive, both mentally and physically. By enforcing the 5-day per week work rule even after this study, the three-day work rule was established. So, it’s a loss for the company itself.
However, if you are reluctant to believe that such a thing could work out or not, then you just have to check the case study of a New Zealand company called Perpetual Guardian. They tried to go for the four-day work week scheme for two months to test out their new strategy. And it worked. The productivity of the company increased, there was less recorded stress and the workforce had a much better work-life balance. Plus, these individuals did not face many of the problems that 5-day work weeks cause, like: fatigue, alcohol abuse, depression, and body pains. In modern companies, employee satisfaction is a must, especially if you want to increase production and Perpetual Guardian was able to do so. Now, it’s time for other companies to try it out.
A company is made out of the shareholders, employees, and customers – it is a combined force and everyone should be kept satisfied. We should not forget the needs of a specific demographic and try to alter our company schemes wherever necessary so that maximum productivity can be achieved. After all, if we are in this together, then we should also try to pull each other up equally, right?
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