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Monday, August 8, 2022

Can you be happy at work?

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Can you be happy at work? I’ve asked myself the question over and over again during these pandemic months when work stress has taken over more than one. And when I ask, many say no. But I always remain optimistic.

You can be happy if your work is primarily professional. You can too if your salary is stratospheric. Above all, it is possible if your vision of life adapts to the harsh inflationary reality. But neither the vocation nor the money nor the good character that some give out seems to mitigate the tiredness with which we come to the holidays this year, especially this year I stress. We’re up to our noses.

We crawl into this resting phase in a state Burn out, i.e. chronic stress, which according to the WHO is “characterized by a depersonalization of tasks, emotional and physical exhaustion and low productivity”. Experts estimate that the Burn out It affects 10% of workers and in its most severe forms between 2% and 5%.

It’s very busy. I go back to the motto so common in the marketing world: A happy employee is a happy customer and therefore a more profitable income statement. But for that you have to change something. I think hope has a name: a four-day work week. If possible with “almost” the same salary. Some companies have tentatively introduced it in Spain.

Antonio, fictitious, tells how the experience is going: “We’ve taken a working day from 40 to 34 hours and I’m happy. Especially because we now have a long weekend, from Friday to Sunday, and you notice that during the break. You use the hours for yourself. I did a million things on Fridays. The range is infinite and we are only talking about a short period of time until noon.” Is there a trick? “The negative part isn’t that negative,” Antonio continues, “because time has practically stood still for the entire company. It just forces you to consider a shorter week. And the week goes by, you don’t even know. The burden is the same, what you reduce is hours devoted to a project. And we learn. We learn how to optimize time. The first was to cut infinite meetings that didn’t reach any port. Reduce downtime and focus productivity. And above all, get things out of the way to get to Thursday.”

The aim is to examine whether the reduction in working hours with the same salary is affordable for the companies and whether it reduces their productivity or their margins. Spain works an average of 1,577 hours a year, 245 more than Germany and 210 more than the UK, but these countries are more prosperous. Not everything is that simple. A few weeks ago, Telefónica employees unanimously rejected the four-day week. The main reason for this lack of interest from employees is that the company’s offer was not attractive in the context of the crisis and economic uncertainty due to the salary cut, which also entails a cut in social security contributions. Given the productivity in Spain, explains Ramón Muñoz, author of the article on the Telefónica procedure, it is very difficult to implement.

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“The reality is that you are busier from Monday to Thursday, but it’s also true that people arrive more relaxed on Monday.” Guido sounds very tired on the other end of the line, despite having a four-day work day. “The organization is the key and also use the times. It’s a good idea as long as it’s doable. You have to suggest it. Being able to switch off from work three days a week is a perk and it’s a hoot. It all depends on the company, the industry and the work you do and logically it is beneficial for the worker.” Guido is one of those who believe that one can be happy at work, but in order to achieve, “it is not a question of working one more or less day, but that many planets are in harmony. Many factors have to be right for a person to feel good.”

I think of a person who is white and happy, especially at work. Raül Balam, chef and active on Instagram. I think I associate it with this state because of the good vibes I see on their networks: “I’m generally happy with everything. Cooking makes me very happy. When we opened the last restaurant, I thought: “Raul, why?“… and I saw the door and I thought, ‘I’m happy’. I would not like to sit in front of the computer. I’m lucky, I have a motivated human team that accompanies me. when we open Cuina Sant Pau It was clear to us that we would not set the minimum wage. It’s going to be the summer of our lives.” Balam adds, “I’m living on a perpetual vacation. I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

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