Written by: Brett Lyndon – The Pro Forum Community of Practice
There is increasing discussion about the introduction of a 4 day work week. Several Australian companies have trialled a reduced workweek. The Australian Public Service (APS) is now requesting it as part of their latest employment bargaining agreement. But, what is it, what are the benefits, and is it right for my company?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things I do know.
What is it and how does it work?
It is exactly as the name suggests. Employees work 4 days each week instead 5. This means there are 3 days off each week. Usually, the working day remains at 8 hours, not increased to 10 to ‘make up for lost time’.
What are the benefits?
One of the main benefits is increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Studies have shown that a shorter workweek can lead to higher job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and increased engagement among workers. This in turn can lead to greater productivity and better job performance. For example, a study by Henley Business School found that employees who worked a 4-day week were 20% more productive than their peers who worked a traditional 5-day week.
Another benefit of a 4-day workweek is improved work-life balance. With an extra day off, employees have more time to spend with their families and engage in hobbies. They more opportunity to recharge their batteries. This can lead to reduced stress levels and better mental health. This, in turn can contribute to improved job performance.
A shorter workweek can reduce absenteeism from the workplace. Employees have greater flexibility to make appointments on their extra day off. This reduces the business impact cost of employees leaving work to attend appointments.
4 Day Work Week Pros:
- Improved Work-Life Balance: A four-day workweek can provide more time for employees to pursue interests outside of work. They can spend time with family and friends.
- Increased Productivity: Research suggests that a shorter workweek can lead to increased productivity. Employees are more motivated and focused during their time at work.
- Cost Savings: A four-day workweek can save employees money on commuting costs and other expenses associated with work.
4 Day Work Week Cons:
- Longer Workdays: On a four-day workweek, employees may work longer hours per day to make up for the missed day. This is possible, but is the exception. In most cases there is no need to increase the length of the working day. Employees work harder to complete the same weekly workload in less time.
- Reduced Availability: A four-day workweek may not work for businesses that need employees to be available five days a week. This can be offset by working with staff to provide flexibility in scheduling arrangements. i.e. Scheduling staff off on different days instead of all at once.
- Reduced Pay: A four-day workweek may lead to reduced pay for employees who are working fewer hours. In most cases this is not necessary. Productivity usually remains the same or increases, despite a reduction in physical work hours.
Is it right for my company?
A 4-day workweek can have benefits for both employees and employers. For employees, it can improve work-life balance, reduce stress, and increase job satisfaction. For employers, it can increase employee morale and productivity. It can also reduce absenteeism, and attract and retain talent.
However, implementing a 4-day workweek requires careful planning and consideration of various factors.
- Workload distribution: Will employees be able to complete their work in four days without compromising on quality or productivity? Consider whether workload distribution is feasible for your company. Can employees still meet their deadlines.
- Employee preferences: Do employees prefer a 4-day workweek? Conduct a survey or poll to assess their interest in a compressed workweek schedule.
- Customer demands: Are your customers likely to need services or support on the fifth day? Does your company relies heavily on customer interaction? You may need to consider alternative arrangements to meet customer demands.
- Cost implications: Will a 4-day workweek result in any cost savings or expenses for your company? For example, you may save on energy costs by closing the office one day a week. Or, you may need to pay overtime to employees who work longer hours during the four workdays.
- Implementation considerations: What are the logistics of implementing a 4-day workweek in your company? Consider factors such as scheduling, compensation, and communication.
Employers should assess whether a compressed workweek schedule is workable for their business operations. Employers must also consider whether it aligns with their goals and objectives.
Additionally, employers should involve their employees in the decision-making process. Consider their input and feedback. Employers should establish clear workplace guidelines and policies. To ensure fairness and equity, workplace policies must address scheduling, workload, and compensation.