The four-day working week: What HR and Individuals leaders must know

We’re all obsessive about telling folks how busy we’re.

We like to wax lyrical about how there are by no means sufficient hours within the day for the whole lot we have to do.

Nonetheless, this will closely influence on many staff’ holy grail: work-life steadiness.

But, longer hours don’t essentially imply higher productiveness. In reality, our analysis revealed that one in three full-time staff admit to being productive for lower than 30 hours every week.

That’s a complete day misplaced to lack of productiveness per working week.

In reality, regardless of working the longest hours in Europe, Britain is among the many least productive.

The US sits at quantity eight on the productiveness rating by hours labored – a lot greater than the UK, however nonetheless has some approach to knocking Luxembourg off the highest spot.

So, are we higher shedding that fifth day at work all collectively?

A four-day working week not solely makes employees happier, however extra productive too in accordance with latest research. And vitally, 51% of staff say they’d welcome a four-day working week.

And with greater than 3,300 staff from 70 UK companies collaborating in a four-day work week trial, which started in June 2022 and runs for six months, the subject is actually on the radar.

Right here’s the whole lot HR and Individuals leaders must find out about a four-day working week.

Right here’s what we cowl:

What does a four-day working week imply?

It means precisely what it says on the tin. As an alternative of the normal five-day working week, staff would work 4 days as an alternative.

Within the UK there’s a four-day working week marketing campaign that believes “a four-day week will profit our society, our economic system, our surroundings and our democracy”.

It has the backing of many organisations and unions, together with the UK’s Commerce Union Council (TUC), which says lowering working time for employees, employers and the nation as a complete has the potential to result in enormous advantages that finally bolster the economic system.

Nonetheless, it’s not simply the UK pushing the four-day week agenda. A rising variety of international locations are going through calls that the four-day week is the reply to elevated productiveness.

How may a four-day week assist the economic system?

The Institute for Labor Economics says working longer invokes the legislation of diminishing returns, with productiveness dropping after the thirty fifth hour of weekly work.

Aidan Harper, a researcher on the New Economics Basis, says there’s a transparent relationship between overwork, poor wellbeing, psychological sickness and poor productiveness.

“All of this stuff are very, very carefully linked, and overwork is fairly terrible for you by way of psychological well being and your capacity to a) work shortly and b) produce a top quality of labor,” he explains.

What examples are there of the four-day week working efficiently?

Within the US, a know-how start-up referred to as Wildbit, based by former Google staff, switched to a four-day week after its CEO, Natalie Nagele, learnt that most individuals can solely actually do round 4 hours of significant, cognitively targeted work in a day.

“I checked out that and stated, okay, as a staff, the place can we in the reduction of,” she explains. “If we are able to do the identical work in 32 hours and get an additional break day, that will be helpful to our private lives and our capacity to recharge, so let’s simply check it out.”

Scottish agency Pursuit Advertising additionally carried out a four-day working week and stated the swap to 4 days led to a staggering 30% enhance in productiveness.

Probably one of the crucial stunning examples of the four-day week is for Japanese automobile firm, Toyota. Its Swedish automobile manufacturing unit noticed elevated buyer satisfaction alongside greater productiveness.

The manufacturing unit lower its employees’s weekly hours from 40 to 30 hours and noticed an uplift of 114% of what they used to provide, which elevated income by 25%.

The managing director of the manufacturing unit, Martin Banck, stated there’s been important optimistic change because of the shift to shorter hours.

He stated: “Workers really feel higher, there’s decrease turnover and it’s simpler to recruit new folks. They’ve a shorter journey time to work, there’s extra environment friendly use of the machines and decrease capital prices—everyone seems to be blissful.”

What do HR and Individuals groups must know to implement a four-day working week?

For firms contemplating the swap to a four-day working week, the recommendation is to implement a trial earlier than pushing out firm extensive.

Perpetual Guardian stated it might be switching to a four-day week following a profitable eight-week trial, discovering that it elevated productiveness by 20%.

Whether or not a four-day working week is correct to your firm relies on many components:

  • Do staff need to scale back their hours?
  • How would working totally different, or longer hours, have an effect on childcare?
  • Is what you are promoting set as much as permit for this totally different working sample?
  • Would you be capable of implement this pretty throughout all areas of the corporate?

Flexibility is a incredible profit that many staff search for from their employer, so having this as an possibility ought to make your organization extra fascinating to expertise.

As well as, switching to a four-day working week could possibly be a giant change, so that you would possibly need to think about different choices that permit for higher flexibility inside your workforce in addition to, or as an alternative of a 4 day working week.

For instance, do you supply the choice of working compressed hours? What’s your strategy to working from dwelling? Are you able to assist working mother and father with extra versatile hours that slot in round college occasions and holidays?

Many employers can take a look at these areas to assist their workforce to develop into happier and extra productive – with out essentially having to modify to a four-day working week.

Is a four-day working week the way forward for work?

The way in which we work is altering.

Nonetheless, it’s not about leaping headfirst into the four-day week. Though it’s an incredible profit for attracting expertise, take into consideration your present staff first.

Ask them what would make them extra productive; don’t assume that is what they need. It’s not the one approach to create a greater work-life steadiness to your staff.

Would they reasonably be given the flexibleness to handle their very own hours throughout the week? Would they reasonably make money working from home? The one means you’ll know the reply to those questions is if you happen to ask them.

Editor’s notice: This text was first printed in November 2020 and has been up to date for relevance.