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BY Jules Dalmacio Articles
As the modern workplace continues to evolve, the idea of a 4-day work week is gaining momentum as a potential solution to improve employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. While the concept of a 4-day work week may seem appealing, it also comes with its own set of challenges. In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of a 4-day work week, and look at some countries that have implemented it.
“Life-work” Balance: The 4-day work week can no doubt improve employee satisfaction and happiness as it allows employees to have more time for personal activities, which can even be enough to tip the scales into life-work balance. Employees get to live more. With more personal time, employees are also expected to come to work on time, and be absent less frequently.
Increased Productivity: in plenty instances, a 4-day work week has been shown to increase productivity. In one such study of 62 companies in the UK, they used the 100-80-100 model: employees get 100 % of the pay for 80% of the time worked but at 100% deliverable completion. Not only did it improve employee satisfaction, it also improved company productivity so much so that 92% of said companies want to permanently operate on a 4-day work week.
Company Benefits: In the same that more people are choosing to work remotely, companies that offer 4-day work weeks are more likely to see great talent clamoring to get in their doors. Remote work already wins against on-site work by virtue of turning commuting hours to an employee’s personal time; what more with an additional day off? With proper implementation, it can reduce a company’s operational cost, improve employee performance, and decrease attrition rate without additional spending–just correct time management and productions scheduling.
Reduced Work Hours: One of the most significant drawbacks of a 4-day work week is the reduction in work hours. This can lead to reduced output and potentially lower revenues especially for industries that work most days of the week or even around the clock like food service, retails, and manufacturing.
Staffing Challenges: A 4-day work week can also create staffing challenges, as the company will need to hire additional staff to ensure that customer service and operations remain uninterrupted; this might also impact workflow processes. One prominent example is with health care; hospitals are expected to operate all days of the week so staffing and workflows will need to be reworked to make a 4-day work week for employees possible.
Potential Burnout: While a 4-day work week can lead to increased productivity, it can also lead to potential burnout if employees are forced to do more than they used to. Another contributing factor to burnout could be helicopter management; since there are less days to work in a week, some managerial staff may put on more pressure on production employees to get equal or more job done in less amount of time.
Several countries have already implemented a 4-day work week, including the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Spain. The New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian implemented a 4-day work week and reported an increase in employee sense of work-life balance from 54% to 78% and that despite spending 20% less time in the office, productivity was the same if not better. However, In Spain, the government launched a three-year trial of a 32-hour work week without a reduction in pay in 2021 but some companies aren’t fully embracing the change. For instance, Telefónica is cutting compensation commensurate with the shortened workdays.
HR success metrics, such as employee satisfaction, employee growth, and employee retention, are critical in evaluating the success of a 4-day work week. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that companies that implemented a 4-day work week experienced a 20% increase in employee satisfaction and a 31% decrease in employee turnover.
As the saying goes, “work to live, don’t live to work”. With emerging work trends that are as innocuous like the prevalence of remote work, to more passive aggressive trends like Quiet Quitting and Quiet Firing, a 4-day work week that aims to promote better employee “life-work” balance might be a the next step towards a more holistic and humane work environment.