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Is a 4-Day Work Week Right for Your Business?

Friday, 3 June 2022

Is working full-time hours an outdated concept? Some businesses think so.

After many businesses have tested out the 4-day work week, they’ve found employees get more done and are happier when their hours are reduced. The results are promising – not only do business owners build goodwill with their teams – they often see higher productivity and lower costs. This blog explores the benefits of transitioning to a 4-day work week (Hint: there are plenty!).

The 4-Day Work Week Saves Your Business from unnecessary overhead costs and energy

By introducing a 4-day work week, your company could save on overhead costs. For example, Microsoft Japan saw a 23% decrease in electricity costs as a direct result. Fewer people in the office lowers the cost of utilities, maintenance, office supplies, etc. If you’re an environmentally conscious business owner, you’ll be pleased to know it also reduces workplace waste.

Less days in the office also cuts down commuting time, which (let’s face it) is one of the most stressful parts of an employee’s day. Offering telecommuting options is also a more efficient use of time (and again, better for the environment!).

Have you ever been in the “this-should-have-been-an-email” meeting? By reducing the number of workdays, you could see a decrease in meeting frequency. Lower the cost of event rentals, room bookings, and catering fees. Additionally, your employees’ time will be freed up to focus on actual tasks rather than getting caught up in long, not-so-productive conversations.

Better work-life balance for employees

Life is busy and can quickly feel overwhelming; work demands, family obligations, and errands can quickly take priority over your employees’ ability to engage in work. Sometimes just having one extra day without work-related pressures can make all the difference in establishing a healthy work-life balance. It allows your team more time for family, friends, and community involvement. It also provides better flexibility for scheduling appointments and tasks that can only be done on a weekday.

Increased productivity and workplace morale

One of the biggest benefits of moving to a 4-day work week is increased productivity. Studies (including this one from Stanford University) show that people are more productive on shorter work weeks because they feel happier and less stressed. Happy employees are more likely to be engaged in their jobs and be invested in their company’s vision, goals, and objectives. This positivity often overflows into a happier work environment and makes employees powerful ambassadors for your brand and reputation. Staff retention is also shown to increase, reducing on-boarding costs and maintaining forward momentum with a strong team of committed employees.

Improves Employee well-being and prevents burnout

Switching to a four-day work week improves employee well-being as reduced stress and better rest positively influence physical, mental, and emotional health. Your workers have more opportunity to take up an activity or hobby that relieves physical and mental stress. With employee burnout rates sitting at 40 to 50% in the US (Business Insider), an extra day to decompress could greatly benefit your team by preventing burnout. A trust management company in New Zealand called Perpetual Guardian, saw a 27% reduction in work stress levels and a 45% increase in work-life balance.

Finally, taking a step back and reducing stress often brings out the best in people. With fewer workdays, you are fostering an environment conducive to new perspectives, creative ideas, and efficient problem solving.

Competitive advantage for attracting top talent

With only 15 percent of US organizations offering four-day workweeks (less than 33 hours/week) according to SHRM, early adopters can gain a compelling advantage over industry competition to attract top talent. Considering Generation Z is expected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2030, and three-quarters of them are interested in the flexibility of a 4-day work week, now is the time for business owners to consider making the switch.

Challenges to Consider

Switching to a 4-day work week is still a controversial topic and may prove challenging. You will need to consider these potential roadblocks.

  • Challenging to implement. It may not be easy to manage new scheduling rhythms, adjust policies, ensure you have the people and resources, and convince shareholders, customers, and managers. You will need to honestly assess these hurdles and decide if they can be overcome.
  • Under pressure. If you reduce the number of work hours, employees might experience increased pressure and stress to complete their tasks on time, which would be quite the opposite of the desired, less-stress effect. If you compress the workweek, (i.e., implementing four ten-hour days), productivity is more likely to decrease rather than improve.
  • Know your industry: For some industries with high service demands, a 4-day work week might not be feasible if scheduling and team size cannot meet industry standards and expectations.

How to Implement 4-Day Work Week at your business

If you’re convinced the 4-day work week might suit your business, it’s time to pitch it to stakeholders, leaders, or your CEO. Here are some suggested steps of how to get the process started.

  1. Create an impactful presentation for your leadership that includes:
    • Concrete evidence of 4-day work week advantages
    • Case studies of successful implementation at comparable businesses
    • Open discussion of the pros, cons, and challenges
    • Goals and expected outcomes
    • How it will benefit the organization as a whole
  2. Consult with departmental leaders to understand the support they need for the change.
    • Do you need new software or technology?  
    • Do you need more people to cover all the needs of your business?
    • How will schedules be adjusted to maintain customer service?
    • What can employees expect will happen to their salary?
  3. Make a phased plan with clearly defined objectives and metrics to evaluate its success.
    • Metrics such as overhead costs and employee retention are easier to calculate, but determine how will you measure productivity, employee health, workplace morale, etc.
  4. Communicate the plan with key leaders, managers, and employees.
  5. Test it out on a trial basis with a small group to collect data and measure the outcomes.
  6. Use your KPIs to make improvements before implementing further.

 

Transitioning to a 4-day work week can prove to be beneficial to employers and employees alike – but it is a BIG change that requires strategic intentionality. If after testing it out, you decide to stick with it, keep in mind that your business insurance might need some adjustments (e.g., no longer leasing a building, increased employee number, change in products and services). Contact a BIG broker to get trusted advice, reliable protection, and BIG savings on business insurance.