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Japan’s “Karoshi” and Sweden’s 6-hour working day 2

Japan’s “Karoshi” and Sweden’s 6-hour working day 2

6-hour working day

is the new system that just recently Sweden has introduced.

As far as I know, this working hour is the shortest around the world. However, the common question is that “don’t the new system make companies lose their revenues?”

I also came up with the same question, but at the same time, I had already recognized that Sweden had done a lot of creative things in a perfect manner.

Hence, I expected the country would realize it adequately. So, in short, a lot of positive results have come out.

But let’s discuss its background a little bit.


20.4 %

Surprisingly, the current unemployment rate of people under 25 years old is 20.4% in Sweden.

Even if the country has provided a rich welfare, this is going to be still a big matter to them at the end of the day.

Therefore, the government realized that they would need to establish a new system that allows companies to increase the number of employees but maintain their revenues as well as profits.

And they decided to encourage enterprises to introduce a 6-hour working day system.

When I heard it for the first time, I couldn’t imagine that it would work out well. This is because we Japanese usually try to be completely dedicated to companies in a bid to achieve great performance.

In other words, every employee is required to work very hard (work overtime, during weekends, etc) even without getting overtime pay.

This attitude is still regarded as dedication, hardworking, diligence and all kinds of fine-sounding terms.

However, as I mentioned earlier, a number of positive consequences have been created because of the new system in Sweden.


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Hired extra people while decreasing 2 hours

Photo: New York Times

Toyota service center in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, has succeeded in increasing profits and maintaining employees’ salaries while decreasing their working hours.

“We didn’t expand the scale of factories and invest in equipment either but bolstered our competitiveness by introducing the 6-hour working day.”


What they did was …

(Working Hours)
8 Hours   →  6 Hours

(Business Hours)
8 Hours   →  12 Hours

1   →  2

Hired 20 people

They decreased working hours from 8 to 6 hours, but increased business hours from 8 to 12 hours.

In order for the company to keep the business operation, they introduced a 2-shift system and hired 20 people.

Actually, personnel expenses went up, but because of the shorter working hours, employees’ productivity improved and it enabled them to deal with customers quickly.

As a result, their customer satisfaction improved and the profit has gone up by 25% for 2 consecutive years.


Municipality’s service

The 6-hour working day is also incorporated into municipality’s public service.

At a retirement home operated by the city of Umea, a city in the northern part of Sweden, L.P.N (licensed practical nurse)’s workday was decreased from 8 to 6 hours in November 2015.

They also hired 6 extra people in order to keep the operation and its additional cost was about $630,000.

However, since the 6-hour working system was introduced, licensed practical nurses have been able to take a good rest at home.

This has enabled them to work more efficiently and have more opportunities to talk to users.

In addition, not only was the burden of the nurses decreased, but it has also created financial benefits.

Back then the cost of overtime pay had been a serious matter. Furthermore, employees tended to get sick because they had to manage a lot of stuff while working overtime almost every day.

Accordingly, a number of problems were caused by the absence.

However, because of the introduction of the new system, they were also able to reduce the cost caused by the matters.

Moreover, since the employment increased, not only could the municipality reduce the cost of unemployment benefits, but they could also increase tax revenues.

Therefore, the introduction of 6-hour working day turned out to be a very positive result!

I can’t tell if it’s going to work out in Japan. However, at least in Sweden, this seems to be able to decrease the unemployment rate if it spreads to a lot of institutions.

Therefore, it must be worth trying it in your country? Why not!

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