Management Minute: What Happened to the 40-Hour Work Week?

40-hour week

If you’re reading this, you’re probably reading it in a rush. You’re pressed for time, watching the clock, juggling multiple demands, with deadlines to meet. You might want to catch some z's at your desk, but you won’t.

Working 9 to 5? Hardly.

Most accounting and finance managers in the U.S. typically work 47 hours a week, and those who aren’t managers are working an average of 42 hours, according to a new report from Robert Half and Financial Executives International (FEI), which produced the sixth edition of the annual study, Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function.

During peak periods, the research shows, the work hours also go up for three-fourths of the core employees in financial departments. But that’s down significantly from last year and the year before — thanks, perhaps, to an improved economy and increased hiring.

So where did the 40-hour work week originate, anyway? Flip back in the history books to the Industrial Revolution, when companies ran their factories 24/7, and workers toiled for 10- to 16-hour days. In 1817, an eight-hour day movement spread internationally after a British socialist named Robert Owen coined the slogan of “eight hours labour, eight hours rest, eight hours recreation.”  

The Ford Motor Company became one of the first U.S. companies to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories in 1926. The news was almost as shocking as when Ford announced it would double the pay for its male factory workers to $5 a day.

But back to the present, and your crunch for time. You may think you don’t have enough of it to study the new Benchmarking report, but in just one hour — from 10-11 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, June 11 — you can attend a free webinar to get the highlights, along with valuable data you can use to evaluate your own operations.

The webinar will bring together experts from Robert Half and FEI, along with CFOs from leading companies, who will share major trends, actionable steps for today’s finance leaders and critical takeaways related to the report.  

Surely you can nab an hour from that 47-hour week for this!

Register Now  

Photo credit: and jesadaphorn 

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