Amazon's 30-hour workweek not just about saving money

Posted September 20

Will Amazon's 30-hour workweek mean greater diversity for the company? (Deseret Photo)

Amazon's experiment with a 30-hour workweek could have far-reaching impact on the job market if it fails or succeeds, according to reports that speculate the internet retail giant's workplace policy is a ploy to attract top talent.

The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reported that a few dozen of Amazon’s tech employees will work Monday to Thursday for 30 hours, and they only have to be in the office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For this, they will make 75 percent of a full-time salary, while still receiving the same benefits as full-time workers and with the option to transfer to full time.

It might be the company’s latest way to “attract top talent,” Rita McGrath, a Columbia Business School professor, told The Post. Ellen Galinsky, president and founder of the Families and Work Institute, said it might also break the “stigma against working reduced hours, or part-time work,” viewed as if the employee was a lesser contributor.

“I’m not sure they’ll rush to do it, but if this works out well (…) I certainly see other companies implementing policies like this," Joe Rubin, a human-resources expert, told Business Insider.

It’s not a new idea. Chron noted how other companies such as online education company Treehouse and tax services firm Ryan offer shorter-than-usual workweeks.

But it’s still not a widespread practice. "A lot of companies have talked about wanting to lower hours but don't seem to actually go about doing it,” Galinsky told The Washington Post.

It might not work for all job fields, as Bloomberg said of Europe’s use of the six-hour workday. Cutting hours may cost employers if “increased productivity saves less than the cost of hiring additional workers.”

Forbes stated that with continuing benefits for part-timers, this may be less about saving money and more of a tactic to recruit talent.

A 30-hour workweek will allow parents “and people with other obligations” to keep to a set work schedule without long absences or working shifts at inconvenient hours, Business Insider noted. It may lead to more diversity, as it might bring in female employees who have domestic responsibilities, the Washington Post added.

“That’s really what Amazon is doing — they’re going cruising for talent among women with children,” wrote Tim Worstall for Forbes. If it works, the gender pay gap may narrow ever so slightly, he continued.

But as the schedule structure is not fully flexible, with its required office hours, it may mean missing out on what times are most productive for employees, critiqued.

“The 30-hour workweek is not the name of a book for a reason,” John Brandon wrote for

Business Insider also noted there could be other drawbacks. One might be that full-time workers come to resent the 30-hour part-timers, despite the decreased amount of pay. A greater concern is that workers may exceed their 30 hours, much like a 40-hour workweeks winds up being 47 hours long for many employees.

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