March 5, 2021

Working less is more productive | Economy

Working less is more productive | Economy

Working more hours does not mean producing more. It is rather the reverse: the longer you are in the position and the less you rest, the more likely you are to suffer accidents at work and the motivation drops sharply. But presenteeism remains a distinctive feature of the work environment in Spain. According to Eurostat, Spaniards work more hours than Germans, French or English and have a very different working day, with a later departure schedule. It is also the Europeans who suffer the most stress. It affects almost 60% of workers, 10 points more than the continental average. As a result, Spain is also the country with the highest percentage of occupational accidents related to physical and psychological stress. 40% of the accidents at work in 2016 were related to him, according to the European agency.

Maybe that's why more and more Spanish companies choose to limit schedules of exit and give certain freedom to the employees to choose their moments of arrival and abandonment of the position. Adif, the rail infrastructures manager, is the last company that has opted to advance the departure time at 18.00. It would be the first public company to implement this measure if negotiations with the unions come to fruition. The general director of people management of Adif, Michaux Miranda, trusts that a work that allows to reconcile attracts female talent to a traditionally masculinized sector. In Adif there is only 14% of women on staff.

But do flexible hours really raise productivity? Iberdrola thinks so. In 2007 he modified the working day. From Monday to Thursday its staff works from 7.15 to 16.36 (with a voluntary margin of one hour and three quarters) and on Fridays it can finish at 14.00. "Our productivity has improved by 6%, accidents in itinere [durante el trayecto de ida o vuelta del trabajo] they have been reduced by 25% and sick leave and absenteeism have decreased, "says Álvaro Murga, director of human resources at Iberdrola Spain. Murga believes essential to get rid of fears and "change the culture", to measure the work by objectives and results, not by hours in the office. The model "is profitable and satisfactory for the worker and the client," he says.

Orange agrees. Its director of people and communication, Ignacio Orúe, believes that flexible entry times (from 7.30 to 10.00), teleworking (one day a week can stay at home) and set a time of departure after 17.00, measures that the telephone operator has been implementing since 2017, have raised their productivity indicators. "We do this to be more successful in our business and in a climate of fierce change," the company explains. "And the best way to achieve this is by bringing out the best in people, creating greater personal satisfaction and a better family life. People want to own their time. "

When there are shifts 24 hours

When the work demands that 24-hour shifts or guards are made, it is also possible to act on the working day and adopt measures that avoid "burning" the employees.

Adif it will reduce the duration of the shifts from eight to six hours and assign more personnel for guards.

Iberdrola compensates shifts with free days that accumulate in the years immediately before retirement, so you can enjoy several months of vacation before retiring.

Orange offers more days off when his workers do the duty; they can be enjoyed shortly after they have been made.

And, if the results are measured, appreciates Ana Romeo, director of human resources of the health insurer Cigna, "reduce diseases, absenteeism and turnover rates." Cigna measures the satisfaction of its staff and it has risen, according to the directive, which places special emphasis on the reduction of absenteeism: "We have fallen to 3%, when the average for Spain is 5%".

"The presenteeism does not work," agrees Ana Gomez, director of human resources at Pfizer: "You need people to be creative." It is also about companies trusting their workers, he adds, because today's technology allows for flexibility and for the employee to organize their own time. In the pharmaceutical one enters between 7.30 and 10.30; It leaves between 2.30 and 5 pm and can be teleworked between four and eight days a month. All this has increased the welfare of workers, raised productivity and retained talent, says Gomez. "The percentage of voluntary turnover in Pfizer is 2% since we have introduced these measures."

Inspiring and nervous

Although initially not all agree with these methods. Experts agree that intermediate positions tend to be the ones with the most opposition. "At the beginning there was some resistance, rather doubts, from the managers," says Ignacio de Orúe, "but they disappeared as soon as they saw that productivity was increasing." Because the executives also have a hard time not staying a little longer in their posts. "I do it myself, although less and less," he admits. Ignacio Murga also recalls some nervousness of the intermediate positions in 2007, "when they saw that the offices were emptied at 4:00 p.m." It happened to them soon, as soon as they began to measure the fulfillment of objectives.

The key to apply changes in the conference is the will of the highest levels of their companies. "These measures are applied in cascade, from top to bottom", explains Ana Gómez; the support of the steering committee is essential. The companies that have introduced them do not consider reverting them, but looking for other ways to continue applying them.

The president of the Association for the Rationalization of Spanish Timetables (Arhoe), José Luis Casero, believes that the success of flexible hours in many companies must be transferred to labor regulation: "The politicians have already taken note that the workers are dissatisfied and now all carry in their programs issues such as permits of paternity or conciliation. " But the 2008 crisis has been a brake on these measures, he says.


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