Michigan: Birthplace of the 5-Day Work Week
It's one of the things we like to complain about the most. The five-day work week.
We live for those three-day weekends, when some holiday we may or may not actually celebrate allows for a paid day off from work and a shortened work week.
During the past several years, many workplaces have begun to debate the pros and cons of officially transitioning to a four-day work week. Studies have shown that there tends to be an uptick in productivity among workers who are on the job for four days each week instead of five.
Not the first time that logic has been used.
Flash back if you will to the mid-1920s. Until then, six-day work weeks were typical. Employees worked their jobs Monday through Saturday, resting only on Sunday.
Enter Henry Ford. An issue of the Detroit News dated September 26, 1926, includes an article headlined "5-Day Ford Week To Be Permanent", concluding with this passage: "...expressed the hope that the new plan will stimulate production to such an extent that...all employees may receive for five days as much...(as) was formerly earned in the full six days."
The Ford policy had begun on a trial basis earlier that year on its assembly lines, and was later expanded to include Ford office workers as well.
The idea traces its beginnings back to 1922, when Henry Ford's son Edsel was quoted in a New York Times article as saying, “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”
Of course, the Fords asserted that with the additional day off, a boost in productivity would be expected. And that's exactly what happened. Other factories around the nation would soon follow suit, and the five-day work week became the gold standard we've known as a nation for now nearly a century.
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