Is the four-day work week good for people and good for business?
By J. James O’Malley, Former Andersen National Director of Experience Recruiting, Jim is a Managing Director and leads the executive search practice for Felix Global.
In today’s evolving economy, more companies are exploring the shift to a four-day week. Advocates of this model purport that it is not only good for employees’ well-being but also good for businesses’ bottom lines. Several companies around the world have implemented it. However, whether a four-day workweek is good for people and good for business depends on a variety of factors.
A shorter work week isn’t a new concept. Around 1940, Henry Ford standardized the revolutionary five-day, 40-hour work week because he thought productivity would increase while also giving people more time to spend money. Three-quarters of a century later, the COVID pandemic showed the world that work structures can be more flexible and still produce the same, if not better, results.
Led by a combination of researchers at Boston College, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and think tank Autonomy, the largest research study on the four-day workweek to date took place with 61 UK-based organizations from June through December of 2022. Despite unfavorable economic and political circumstances throughout the globe, participating companies saw favorable results. Since the trial ended, 95% of those companies have permanently implemented the four-day week after gains in revenue, along with reductions in turnover and employee burnout, demonstrated that people can work more efficiently in less time. These outcomes mirror the results of other studies conducted previously with other companies in the UK, Ireland, an Australia.
How is the four-day workweek different from flexible and hybrid work schedules? Could it be a model that works for your company and employees? Would it help you attract and retain talent or generate more revenue? Could it be a tool for getting people to return to the office? Could fewer working days make a positive impact on your community’s mental, physical, and economic health? The transition takes meticulous planning, consistent collaboration, and dedicated leadership. To consider the switch, companies must account for potential benefits and drawbacks that impact both their employees and their organization.
Advantages for employees:
- Improved work-life balance: Employees can better balance work with family, personal responsibilities, and interests.
- Reduced stress: Employees may have more time to rest, leading to less stress and burnout, which can improve mental health and reduce absenteeism.
- Higher job satisfaction: Employees’ morale and engagement may increase, which can improve employee retention.
Advantages for businesses:
- Increased productivity: Employees may be more focused and motivated during their working hours.
- Improved recruitment: Potential employees may view a four-day workweek as an appealing benefit, helping businesses attract and retain top talent.
- Increased in-office time: Employees may feel more inclined to work in-person if they are only required to commute four days of the week.
- Lower costs: Businesses may save on overhead costs like electricity and office supplies.
- Better customer service: Businesses may be more likely to provide consistent customer service and have fewer errors or delays.
Disadvantages for employees:
- Longer workdays: Employees may have to work longer hours to complete the same amount of work, which could lead to fatigue and decreased productivity.
- Difficulty adjusting: Some employees may find it difficult to adjust to a new schedule or may struggle to balance their workload.
- Collaboration challenges: Employees may not be able to interact with their coworkers consistently if they do not work on the same days.
- Reduced pay: A shorter workweek may result in reduced pay, depending on how the policy is implemented.
Disadvantages for businesses:
- Reduced coverage: Businesses may have reduced coverage, which could lead to decreased productivity or delays.
- Difficulty scheduling: Coordinating with clients or scheduling meetings could become more challenging with clients who work a traditional five-day week or a different four-day week.
- Reduced profits: If productivity decreases or overhead costs do not decrease enough to offset fewer workdays, businesses may see profits decrease.
Ultimately, whether a four-day workweek is good for people and good for business depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the work being performed, the needs and preferences of employees, and the overall culture of the company. Some companies have successfully implemented a shorter workweek and seen positive results, while others may find that it is not a viable option for their organization. This is a topic that is starting to gain more momentum; tell us what you think!
About the Author: J. James O’Malley is a managing director and practice leader for Felix’s Executive Search business. For 30+ years, Jim has developed talent acquisition solutions to ensure that leadership talent aligns with changing business needs. Jim has served: Private Equity and their portfolio clients across all industries in addition to his background with Management Consulting firms, Architecture, Engineering, Accounting, Tax and Law firms in addition to IT, Healthcare, Operations and Supply Chain consultancies. He also helps large Commercial, Consumer and Private Banks with their hiring needs. For more information and to contact Jim at: email@example.com .
About Felix: Felix is a North American-based talent and organizational advisor with over 30 years of successful client engagements. Felix offers a partnership with a team of thought leaders who deliver integrated solutions for achieving excellence in talent and organizational performance. Their team encompasses content experts in the areas of Executive Search, Talent Acquisition, Talent Development & Insights, Talent & Organizational Performance, Career Transition, and a C-Suite Advisory that provides development and transition services to C-suite executives, their direct reports and board members and advisors. Felix works with numerous organizations of global reach in a variety of verticals, including financial services, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, technology, professional services and more. Felix is headquartered in Chicago, with a Canadian headquarters in Toronto and new offices coming to Milwaukee, Dallas and Naples. Don’t wait. Think big. Go Small. For more information on our Executive Search Practice, contact us at: www.felixglobal.com