05 Aug Four-Day Workweeks Are Realistic and Beneficial to Both Businesses and Employees
The idea of the four-day workweek seems counterintuitive – how can employees work fewer hours, and be just as productive? After all, the five-day workweek is the American standard. However, numerous test studies in companies worldwide – even some in the United States – have all come to the same conclusion. When you decrease the number of hours your employees work, without decreasing their pay, the focus shifts from hours worked to productivity. This focus on the quality and quantity of work skyrockets output, while also boosting employee wellbeing. Let’s take a closer look at just how companies can benefit from this novel idea.
1. Attract and Maintain Top Talent
In this day and age, the onus rests on employers to provide attractive benefits in order to hire and maintain the best employees they can. Workers feel that if they can’t find what they want in one job, they will simply move on to the next one. A four-day workweek is an incredibly competitive advantage for employers, at little cost to themselves. For the employees you already have, a new work schedule can keep your turnover rates low. And, if employers feel that a shortened workweek isn’t feasible, they have options! Consider implementing a five-day workweek, with reduced hours each day. Or, rather than mandating Fridays off, allow employees the flexibility to choose their day off each week. You can even change the hours people work, to accommodate those who prefer to work earlier or later in the day, for example, a 6-2 or 11-7 day. Remember, happy employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees stick around.
2. Take Care of Your Employees
When employees feel good, they do good work. Extra time away from work allows employees to decompress, especially if their work is physically or mentally draining. They can run errands, see family, or even just relax. But the point isn’t what they do with the time off, it’s that they have it. When they come back they feel refreshed, because they have increased work-life balance. This reduces burnout and chronic absenteeism. Less stress also means less illness, so your employees will be able to reserve sick days for when they truly need to use them. A clear and rested mind means fewer mistakes, so their productivity increases too. With the rise in wellbeing and health, the office mood will improve. More people will be present and engaged at work, and therefore less likely to participate in negative behavior associated with disgruntled “quiet quitters.” The important thing to remember is not to cut their pay with the reduction in hours. Employees need to maintain their thriving standard of living in order to be at peak performance for your business. What is good for employees is good for employers, and your employees will be thanking you before you know it!
3. Work Smarter, Not Harder
By reducing the number of hours in your workweek, employees and managers can work together to find the most efficient ways to get work done. This lends an automatic increase to productivity, as you complete the same amount of work in fewer hours. The key to success is to avoid adjusting your goals to the new schedule, but to instead focus on removing unnecessary tasks from your workflow. To try this in your own company, we recommend completely clearing your schedule, and seeing what is actually required to get work done. You would be surprised how many tasks and meetings are unnecessary, or could be reduced to an email or group chat if they are needed. Group chats are especially effective for sharing real-time information and progress updates, without having to stop work for a meeting. Ask your employees for ideas, as they know best how they spend their time daily. Employees want to contribute, and they know that wasting time at work doesn’t feel good, so they’ll jump at the chance to help you trim down a task list to what is most effective.
Most companies in the trial studies saw an increase in productivity and revenue, but some went the extra mile and found they were hitting goals far ahead of schedule due to increased efficiency. And the effects are not just short-term. The longer people work with a shortened schedule, the more efficient they become, continuing to cut down average work time, while maintaining their increases in mental health, satisfaction, and engagement.
4. Reduce Costs
A four-day workweek is more than just a productivity-booster – it can also be a money-saving tactic. Time is money, after all, and by eliminating unnecessary tasks and wasted time, you waste less money. Fewer quits and lower turnover rates mean less costs associated with constant hiring and onboarding. Improved employee health and stress levels leads to lower health insurance rates and healthcare prices, as well as reduced absenteeism, and any costs associated with employees frequently missing work. A benefit that reduced workweeks share with hybrid work schedules is the additional savings that come with having people in-office less frequently, commute costs and those associated with having people in a physical office setting are reduced.
The four-day workweek is a new and burgeoning movement, and many American companies are hesitant to adopt it, as we are so used to our Monday through Friday jobs. But it is a growing movement, and one with many positive benefits that most employers don’t realize are very easy to attain. It doesn’t just apply to office jobs either – blue-collar workers like landscapers and manufacturers; and people in jobs with traditionally long shifts like nursing can benefit too. The science has proven it works, now it is our turn to apply it and reap the rewards.