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In the last two years, there have been some seismic shifts in the way we view work. Motivations, desires, and expectations are evolving to the point that employers must start considering different options if they want to attract and retain top talent. One option is a four-day work week. The question is: IIs it really good for business? In this article, I’ll explore the answer to that question by weighing some of the main pros and cons of the four-day workweek and what it means for businesses and workers.
How does a 4-day workweek work?
For 90% of business owners, the pandemic has changed everything about running a business and managing employees. It required quick turnarounds, flexibility, and innovative decision-making. And even today, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, the effects are long-lasting.
In a 2020 study, 62% of employees said they experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the past 90 days. And in 2021, 67% of workers said their stress and burnout had increased since the start of the pandemic. It’s no coincidence that we’ve also seen an increase in remote work, hybrid work, and four-day workweeks over the past year.
There is no standard “four day work week” setting. Like any work configuration, there are different variations. In some organizations, it’s a true four-day work week, meaning employees work roughly 32 hours instead of 40 hours per week. In other companies, employees must work four 10-hour days to ensure that 40 hours of work still get done. And then there are some companies that take Wednesdays off instead of Fridays. This means that employees work Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. Once again… it all depends on the employer.
Regardless of the configuration, the goal is to end burnout, promote balance, and keep employees happy, productive, and loyal. And, believe it or not, it’s really starting to catch on. There’s even a new pilot program that has 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies (ranging from large financial institutions to small consultancy firms) testing a four-day week this year to gather valuable data and insights into what kind of setup works best. .
Related: Is the 4-Day Workweek Better? The evidence points to yes.
The advantages of a 4-day workweek
Employee Motivation: Think about how motivating it is to know that a three-day weekend is coming up. Now imagine having a three-day weekend every weekend! When employees realize that they only have four days of hard work and stress to go through, instead of five, it does a positive thing for their motivation and psyche.
Cost savings: According to a study by Henley Business School, 51% of business leaders report cost savings associated with a four-day workweek (compared to a standard five-day workweek).
Increased productivity: On paper, you might assume that a 20% reduction in total working time would result in 20% less production, but this isn’t necessarily true. Companies often find that the compressed work week results in higher productivity and performance. Microsoft Japan, for example, increased its productivity by 40% after moving to a four-day setup.
Less downtime: The same Henley Business School study found that companies with a four-day work week report using 62% fewer sick days. Less time is lost at work, too, as employees are motivated to get everything done before the three-day weekend.
Talent acquisition and retention: Employees today are looking for more than just a salary. They want to work for companies that care about things like work-life balance. Having a four-day work week gives organizations a huge competitive advantage when it comes to acquiring and retaining talent.
The Cons of a 4-Day Workweek
Availability of customer service: If you’re in a service business where customers depend on you for ongoing support, taking three days off each week can irritate them and/or cause some customers to switch to a competitor.
Programming problems: When it’s only open four days a week, it can be difficult to schedule meetings, fulfill obligations as part of associations, etc. You have to find creative ways to fix this.
Pressure increase: When there are only four days in a week to get work done, it puts extra pressure on employees to perform. Sometimes the stress can be too much, leaving some employees feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. This isn’t a problem for everyone, but it can definitely be a factor.
Employee challenges: On the surface, you might assume that all employees would love to have Fridays off. However, you should consider the impact it has on your schedule. For example, moving from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate an extra day off could prevent employees from being able to drop off their children at school or attend extracurricular activities in the evenings. Be sure to consider details like this!
Related: Will a Four-Day Workweek Lead to Higher Productivity?
There is no single solution to running a business. You know it better than anyone. But if you’re looking for a way to propel your company into this new era of business, a four-day workweek could be the answer. Consider trying it this year!