Swedish City to Shorten Working Hours

August 26, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. implement /ˈɪm pləˌmɛnt, -mənt/ (v.) – to put something into effect
Example: The government implemented the policy that will stop the use of plastics.

2. well-rested /wɛlrɛstid/ (adj.) – having enough amount of sleep and rest
ExampleWell-rested employees are usually more productive than those who lack sleep.

3. resume /rɪˈzum/ (v.) – to continue something after stopping
Example: Lee resumed writing the article after he ate lunch.

4. whine /waɪn/ (v.) – to complain
Example: Some employees kept whining about the Internet connection problem.

5. accustom /əˈkʌs təm/ (v.) – to be familiar with something by doing it regularly
Example: The workers have been accustomed to the frequent overtime periods.


Read the text below.
The city of Gothenburg [GOTH-uh n-burg], Sweden will be implementing a policy that will shorten some employees’ daily shift to six hours.

This policy is an attempt to test if shortened working hours will lead to higher efficiency among employees. Two groups of workers in Gothenburg are now being observed. The first group is composed of employees who work on six-hour shifts while the other group is composed of employees who work for eight hours. The experiment began on July 1. After a year, the government will evaluate the results. Whether this policy will be applied to other government sectors or not will be based on the said results.

According to City Councilor Mats Pilhelm, this policy aims to lessen the sick days of employees and to improve their performance. He believes that the shortened working hours can help employees go to work well-rested and more prepared.

Pilhelm added that the standard eight-hour shift requires more breaks. For each break, employees usually take 10 to 15 minutes before being ready to resume with their tasks. In addition, Pilhelm mentioned that the recent implementation of the six-hour policy in a Toyota factory in Gothenburg had given positive results.

While the policy seems beneficial for workers, a similar experiment conducted in Kiruna, [KEE-ry-nah] Sweden revealed that the results were unexpectedly unfavorable. Many employees whined that the compressed working hours gave them more pressure to accomplish their tasks. Because of such result, the officials of Kiruna decided to end the 16-year experiment in 2005.

On another note, American workers have been accustomed to exceeding the eight-hour daily shift. According to a survey, eight out of 10 Americans complain about work-related stress and having an unbalanced lifestyle.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Gothenburg will get an ideal result on their experiment? Why do you say so?
·         Why do you think shortened work hours caused Kiruna workers to be more stressed?

Discussion B

·         How can work-related stress and sickness be avoided?
·         Aside from having shortened work hours, what are the other initiatives that could help workers improve their performance? Kindly discuss.

August 26, 2014