Is a Four-Day Work Week Right For Your Business?
According to some surveys, 92% of employees would support having a four-day workweek. They say it would improve productivity, mental health, and work-life balance, but many companies are still hesitant to implement a four-day workweek.
With so many companies trying this model out, you may wonder if it’s the right fit for your business. Keep reading to discover all you need to know about having a four-day week for your business.
Four-Day Work Week Trends
The four-day workweek has been a trial in the European workforce, and the results have been promising. For example, in Iceland, they had two successful trials where employees worked reduced hours but received pay as if they were full-time. The studies found that they maintained productivity, had better work and personal wellbeing, and were overall happier.
Belgium has also passed laws to reform the labor and condense a workweek into four days with longer hours. In addition, Spain and Scotland have launched pilot four-day workweek programs.
Private companies with a New Zealand office and other companies in the United Kingdom also host one-year trials to see how a four-day workweek works. Some companies in the United States are also dabbling in a four-day work week, and the results have been positive.
Most workers found that having more flexibility made them more productive each year. Because of this, many companies also notice that it’s solving some of their retention problems. When employees are mentally healthier, they’re more fulfilled and can do things outside of work. This improves the work-life balance and helps employees bring their best version to the job.
However, not all four-day workweek models are created equal. Some companies try cramming forty hours into four days rather than offering thirty-two-hour work weeks. Employee satisfaction and productivity drop when employees have to work for ten-hour days. The goal for the company should be to reduce the number of hours employees work, rather than cramming ten hours into one workday.
When your employees are happier, this will lead to better employee engagement. Your employees will appreciate the extra time back and are less likely to be stressed and burnt out.
With better employee engagement, your employees are more likely to be productive. Overworked employees will find it more challenging to be productive because they are so burnt out from working. Having an extra day to relax and recover can make employees feel like they’re more productive. And in some cases, having a shorter workweek makes employees more productive.
Another benefit of working only four days is if you require employees to come into the office. By only having them come in four days a week, you can reduce your business’s carbon footprint and have fewer employees on the road commuting to work for one day a week. Showing that you care about your employees and the environment can also help improve your employer branding and attract more talent.
If you embrace this model early on, you can also give your company a competitive edge and attract talent away from companies still offering a five-day week. By promoting output-focused working, you can show that you care about your employees and find candidates easier.
With all of the companies trying the four-day work week, there have also been some downsides. Most employees had decreased stress levels, but some had higher stress.
For example, if you’re in a challenging work environment with demanding deadlines and short turnarounds, then shorter weeks could make it more stressful to get things done. Also, with a four-day work week, some employees will also have less time and flexibility in when to work their hours.
You also need to remember that you can’t just implement a four-day work week and automatically expect it to be a success. You need to create a long-term strategy and slowly implement it into your business.
If you ask employees to do more work in less time, then you need to ensure that they have the right culture, technology, and support to maintain that. Employees can be more productive in a short amount of time, but they need support to do that.
How to Implement a 4-Day Work Week
While you are implementing a four-day working week, you also need to maintain the same production and company culture levels. If you want this to work for everyone, you must find a flexible model for all employees.
For example, you may want to give employees the options for which days they want to work their four days. Some may decide to take Monday off and have a three-day weekend, and some may want to take Thursday off. This way, you are still making your employees as easy as possible.
Companies also need to be careful not to accidentally create a more stressful situation with the work intensity. Some companies will try to make ten-hour days for four days a week, adding added pressure onto employees and causing burnout even quicker.
Companies must create a good balancing act between promoting an output over their employee’s well-being.
Should You Implement a Four Day Week Model?
There are many benefits to a shorter working week if implemented correctly. Four-day workweeks give your employees more power and flexibility over their personal and work lives. When this happens, they can be more productive, engaged, and motivated, which is a win for the employee and the employer.
However, keep in mind that it’s not a one-size fit. If you have employees whose productivity isn’t tied to the number of working hours, it could be a better model for them. These will be jobs like strategic or creative roles when taking breaks and pausing can help them do better work.
But, if you have employees at a restaurant or a retail store and need to serve a certain amount of customers in a specific timeframe, it could be more challenging on a compressed work schedule. Some employees may also not have the skills to do the same work in less time, and these jobs will generally have higher turnover rates anyway.
But for most companies, if you have a higher turnover rate and want to reduce your recruiting and onboarding costs, implementing this model can be beneficial. When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to do a trial run.
If you’re interested in learning more about the latest HR trends, make sure that you check out our HR publication, Recruiter Today.
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