Four Is the New Five: The Benefits of Four-Day Work Weeks
By now, many of us have heard about the push towards transitioning from the traditional five-day, forty-hour workweek into a new, modernized four-day workweek. For obvious reasons, the concept of an extra free day at the same salary is appealing to employees. For even more obvious reasons, management has its concerns.
Since it was announced that a research study in Iceland found that productivity was not negatively impacted by the implementation of a four-day workweek, it’s been a trending topic of conversation. Furthermore, it was also noted in the study that “worker wellbeing dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance,” according to USA Today.
Since the lasting effects of the pandemic have caused increased stress levels, decreased employee satisfaction, and a lack of work-life balance for most employees, the incentive of a four-day workweek sounds like a dream. But is it too good to be true? Does it have any real benefits? Let’s examine.
How a four-day workweek functions
For starters, when we refer to a four-day workweek, we are not referencing a 40-hour week that is compressed into four days. For the purposes of this article, a four-day workweek would average about 32-36 hours worked across the four days.
A four-day workweek aims to keep productivity levels high while decreasing strain and stress on employees. This process only works when the decreased time is not negatively impacting your company.
Organizations that are considering this transition may have the following questions:
- What day of the week would we take off?
- How would this affect vacation and sick time?
- Would it be better to work shorter days during a five-day workweek?
- How would this transition affect our clients?
These are all valid questions. Unfortunately, only your team may be able to determine the answer to some of them. For instance, you may want to give the entire company Fridays off or you may want to allow employees to choose which day they have off or even split groups up into teams that determine which day is taken off. It really is to the discretion of you and your team how you would approach a four-day workweek.
More large-name companies, including Kickstarter, will be testing this process come 2022, which will give the rest of U.S.-based companies an idea of what this concept looks like when put to fruition.
Like most things, the best way to answer these questions is to communicate with your team.
Again, it is obvious that cutting the workweek short will help increase employee satisfaction. With labor shortages still affecting most industries, that may be a strong enough reason to convince management. However, it is not the only benefit to consider.
Increased employee retention and talent acquisition
Increasing employee satisfaction can impact many other aspects of your business, including employee retention. When one of the benefits of working for your company is a competitive salary and above-average benefits, you are bound to attract and keep high-quality talent. (You may also attract less than high-quality talent, so be sure to have an effective vetting process.)
The objective of a shortened workweek is to keep productivity high. While one may assume that productivity would be the first aspect negatively impacted by working one day less each week, studies have shown the opposite.
According to Reed.com, a New Zealand company that tested out the process found a 20% increase in productivity. Additional international studies are finding much of the same. While it may be interesting to see how these trends progress as more and more major companies begin their own trials in 2022, it is a promising start.
Initially, one may assume that paying employees for the extra day would increase costs. However, it can actually decrease what is spent over time for supplies, energy, and other standard bills. It also is better for the environment if your company is working to decrease its carbon footprint.
Transitioning over to a four-day workweek is a big step. At this point in time, it may be too early to say this is the future of work, but it sure would be nice, wouldn’t it? If you’d like to begin a trial at your company, we recommend reviewing this guide from Harvard Business Review.
If your company is currently functioning with a four-day workweek, leave a comment to tell us how it is going. In the meantime, continue to check back in with BrandResumes’ HR Corner for more articles.
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