Sir Richard Branson has an intriguing idea about getting people back to work. It’s easy as 1-2-3:
- Talk to the 10-20% of the work force who want to work less.
- Let them.
- Then give those hours to the unemployed to get them back to work.
Sir Branson made the suggestion recently on CNBC, “If I was running america, I would make sure that the 10% of people are out of work were given jobs and the way I would do that was I would say to companies, ‘talk to your work force, find out how many of them are willing to work 50% of the year rather than 100% of the year. How many are willing to job share? How many more would be willing to go part time?’ And you will find that in every company there’s something like 10% to 20% of the work force who would actually like to work less hours. . .”
Now, Branson’s plan doesn’t create new jobs or new revenues to grow the economy. But it does hold the potential of making people happier and of preventing foreclosures and bankruptcy. Stressed out workers who would choose to work less if they didn’t fear losing their jobs would have the chance to dial it back a bit. In addition, unemployed people would finally get back to work and those families would stop falling into financial ruin. As Branson noted, it’s simple and it can happen very quickly. Branson estimates it will reduce unemployment to 1.6% overnight. That rate would be lower than it has ever been in our lifetimes. So why not give it a shot?