I am certain you’ve heard that a 4-day work week is gaining traction coming out of the COVID-19 Pandemic with employers. Not only has the Work-from-Home experience taught many employers that office workers can be as productive from anywhere, there is growing evidence that shows workers are more happy and engaged when they have an extra day each week. While the research is not definitive and there are many caveats to the perceived benefits of a 4-day work week (e.g., certain businesses cannot be fully adapted to a shorter work week), the organization, 4 Day Week Global has been undertaking pilots in the UK and the results seem promising.
In this conversation, I talk to Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder of 4 Day Week Global to hear some of the benefits that have been found. As well, what should companies consider before pursuing a shortened work week? Charlotte co-authored “What Leaders Need to Know Before Trying a 4 Day Work Week,” which was used as the basis for this discussion.
Why Should Companies Pursue a 4 Day Work Week Policy?
Charlotte’s company has found several benefits to why companies should pursue a 4 Day Work Week – primarily, to attract and retain the best staff.
Companies should consider a four-day workweek for several reasons, including:
- Improved work-life balance: A four-day workweek can allow employees to have an extra day off to pursue personal interests, spend time with family, or simply rest and recharge. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress levels, which can in turn lead to increased productivity and employee retention.
- Increased productivity: While some studies have suggested that a four-day workweek can lead to decreased productivity, other studies have found the opposite. By giving employees more time to rest and recharge, they may be able to work more efficiently during their working hours and produce higher quality work.
- Cost savings: Companies that operate on a four-day workweek may be able to save on overhead costs such as electricity, heating/cooling, and other utilities. Additionally, a compressed workweek can reduce commuting costs for employees and potentially decrease absenteeism.
- Environmental benefits: By reducing the number of workdays, a four-day workweek can potentially reduce the carbon footprint of a company and its employees. Fewer days spent commuting or in the office means less energy use and less environmental impact.
- Attract and retain talent: Offering a four-day workweek can be an attractive benefit for potential employees, particularly those who prioritize work-life balance. Additionally, employees who value a four-day workweek may be more likely to stay with a company long-term, leading to increased employee retention and reduced recruitment costs.
What have been some of the results of the 4 Day Work Week Pilots?
In 2022, 61 companies in the UK participated in a pilot of the 4-day work week with over 2,900 staff and the results were interesting. For employees, these included the following:
71% of employees had reduced levels of burnout
39% were less stressed
43% felt an improvement in mental health
54% said they felt a reduction in negative emotions
37% of employees saw improvements in physical health
46% reported a reduction in fatigue
40% saw a reduction in sleep difficulties.
For employers, the benefits included:
⬇ The number of staff leaving fell by 57% over the trial period
⬆ Business performance and productivity both scored an average of of 7.5/10 on two separate scales.