In an effort to attract and retain employees, many businesses are considering making changes to the standard Monday to Friday and moving to a 4 day work week, without any deduction in pay. Many workers are reacting favourably to the shift since it gives them more time to spend with family and a better chance to rest, recharge and come back to work with renewed energy.
In fact, around 70 companies have begun a six month trial of a four-day week in what is thought to be the biggest pilot of its kind led by 4 Day Week Global.
But what are the pros and cons of this new scheme for businesses? Here are a few things you may want to consider.
Work hard, to play hard. A motivated team is the kind of team that are more likely to go that extra mile and achieve those results. Spending less time at work can be a strong motivator for employees to engage in a more productive use of time and hit targets. It can also be perceived as a way that a business supports its staff members on and off the job.
- Fewer Costs
According to a Henley Business School poll more than half of business leaders (51%), reported cost savings with a four day workweek. These include savings on use of facilities, utilities and transport.
- Attracting Talent
Companies wanting to attract the top talent need to entice their candidates with an attractive benefits package – a shortened workweek could certainly add a few bonus points or set them ahead of the competition.
The key to retaining your dream team is making them feel valued, avoiding burnout and focusing on wellness. A 2020 Gallup poll of over 10,000 workers revealed that 4-day workweek employees reported the highest rates of ‘thriving wellbeing’ at 63% compared with those working five (57%) or six days (56%).
- Less Downtime
The same poll found that those on a four-day workweek used fewer sick days. Having an extra day off during traditional business hours, allows employees to schedule doctors’ appointments and other necessities without taking time away from their job.
- Reduced hours can mean reduced work
This will depend on the maturity and commitment level of your team. While some organisations have seen productivity rise, especially if motivation is a driving factor for extra time off, your actual results may vary. You’ll need to gauge how much flexibility you can offer based on your staff’s level of responsibility.
If your customers expect to reach you between traditional work hours, then the need to have your staff available may limit your ability to compress the workweek. Many business leaders worry there won’t be adequate coverage for customers. This can be a challenge to overcome and may require staggering your work week so that half your workforce take off Monday while the other half take off Friday.
- Compression may cost money
Salaried workers may put your business at risk of having to pay overtime if they are expected to perform and produce at the same level, but in less amount of time. If they struggle and targets aren’t met, they will likely have to do a few overtime hours to keep up with their previous pace, and this will end up costing you, the employer extra.
In addition to managing client needs, internal scheduling may cause problems. Planned meetings can be scheduled within the workweek, but impromptu or emergency meetings may be troublesome. Brainstorming sessions may see limited input, particularly if employees who are off are inaccessible. How often these occur within an organisation may dictate the feasibility of a 4-day workweek.
While these new working patterns aren’t for everyone or for every business, it would be worth weighing up the pros and cons and seeing how this new schedule could shape around your organisation. If you want to give it a try, start with a pilot program, perhaps during your quieter months. Set some targets, analyse results and make it clear to your team what you expect from them.
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