4-Day Work Weeks. The Future of The Workforce
There’s been discussion about the potential benefits of working a four-day week instead of a five-day week. Making 32 hours the norm instead of 40 has both pros and cons. Here is an argument for both sides of the spectrum.
Ideally, a 4 day work week with no loss in productivity, pay, or benefits is what candidates/employees are pushing for. A 32 hour work week to prevent burnout and increase overall mental health. A 3 day weekend allows many people to maintain their work/life balance in a healthier way, it diminishes the idea of “living for the weekend”. This gives employees the ability to complete personal tasks whether it be a doctor’s appointment, personal development, education etc. But there has to be something in it for employers, too. Companies that truly put their people first are the exception, not the norm. These are some of the benefits that employers might expect from giving employees more control over their time: Increased sales, reduced employee burnout and improved employee retention, larger applicant pool for open positions
A four-day work week doesn’t always mean employees will maintain their current pay and benefits. Some organizations have already tried a four-day week as a cost-saving measure, like Stanley Black and Decker and the Los Angeles Times, which managed to trim 20% from payroll costs for three months, according to a Harvard Business report. Short-term trials that demonstrate success with a four-day workweek can differ from long-term outcomes, no company has adopted and maintained a 4 day work week so, there are no definite success rates. A four-day week that requires people to work 10-hour days can be near impossible with wage regulations or prove too difficult for employees, failing to either improve productivity or save the company money. A tech group noted by a Stanford Business report attempted a 9 hour work week Monday – Thursday then a 4 hour work day on Friday’s. This failed because so many employees lacked motivation to do the 4 hour workday on Friday. Gallup conducted a poll in March 2020, they concluded that while individuals working four-day weeks reported lower levels of burnout and higher levels of well-being compared to people working five- or six-day weeks, the percentage of actively disengaged workers was lower than those who worked five-day weeks.
Many companies and workers have had success with a shortened work week and witnessed benefits such as increased productivity and more time to pursue personal interests and goals. However, a four-day schedule does not work for all industries, businesses, or individuals. Also, it won’t improve a toxic workplace or an unpleasant job. The reevaluation of work brought upon the world by the COVID-19 pandemic has driven increased interest in the idea of a four-day workweek, just like a work-from-home model. But, making it the new normal will require making a cultural and mindset shift that overall deemphasizes work. So, it will be interesting to see what companies adopt this model and take a 4 day week trial run. .
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