The Benefits of the Four-Day Workweek

Feb 27, 2023

I missed blogging and podcasting last week. I'm prepping my home for sale and have had painters and other workers in. I'm also going through a massive decluttering since I'm hoping to move from a big suburban home into a much smaller condo or row house in the city as I become an empty nester. It's like having a second job. I always recognize my privilege when I get to move my work schedule around to accommodate such things. I'm a big advocate for organizations freeing up time for employees to manage personal events like moving since it's hard to make good decisions when you are trying to sneak out of a meeting to let the painters in. 

So I was thrilled to see the results of the major UK four-day workweek pilot program last week. 

Remember when they first started to float the idea of a four-day workweek? Many people were convinced it would fail. After a pilot program in the UK run by Autonomy and Four Day Week Global involving 61 companies and 2900 employees over a six-month period from June to December 2022, the results were pretty impressive. 

  • Revenue increased 1.4% over the trial period
  • Revenue increased 35% when compared to a previous similar time period
  • Resignations decreased by 57%
  • 39% of employees were less stressed
  • 71% of employees had reduced levels of burnout
  • 54% of workers said it was easier to balance work with household work 
  • 60% of employees said it was easier to combine work with care responsibilities 
  • 62% said It positively impacted their social life
  • Satisfaction increased

The results of the pilot program were overwhelmingly positive, providing evidence to support the case for a four-day workweek in the UK. Productivity increased among workers who participated in the four-day workweek. Workers reported feeling more rested and refreshed when they returned to work after a three-day weekend. This meant that they were better able to focus on their tasks and were less likely to experience distractions or burnout. Additionally, some workers reported that having an extra day off allowed them to pursue hobbies or interests that they would not have had time for otherwise. This led to a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, which carried over into their work and increased their motivation and engagement.

Another factor that contributed to increased productivity was the fact that workers reported feeling more valued and supported by their employers. Many organizations that participated in the pilot program implemented flexible work arrangements or other measures to help workers balance their work and personal lives. This led to a greater sense of trust and collaboration between workers and employers, which in turn increased motivation and productivity.

Employers also reported significant benefits from the four-day workweek pilot. One of the most significant benefits was a reduction in absenteeism and turnover rates. Workers who participated in the four-day workweek reported feeling less stressed and more satisfied with their work, which led to a decreased likelihood of calling in sick or quitting their jobs. This resulted in cost savings for employers, as they were able to avoid the costs associated with hiring and training new staff.

Employers also reported increased levels of employee engagement and creativity. Workers who had an extra day off each week were able to pursue interests or hobbies that they were passionate about, which often led to new ideas and insights that could be applied to their work. Additionally, the increased sense of collaboration and trust between workers and employers led to more open communication and brainstorming sessions, which generated new ideas and solutions for the organization.

In addition to the benefits for workers and employers, the four-day work week pilot also had positive effects on the wider community. Workers who participated in the pilot reported feeling more connected to their families and communities, as they had more time to spend with loved ones and participate in social activities. This led to a greater sense of well-being and happiness, which had ripple effects throughout the community.

In the past, there have been challenges associated with a shorter week. For example, some organizations found it difficult to implement flexible work arrangements or adjust their operations to accommodate a shorter workweek. Additionally, there were concerns about the potential impact on worker wages and benefits, as some workers may have had to take a pay cut in order to participate in the program. In the case of the UK program, there were no wage cuts or longer workdays during the four days. A lot of the success was due to a carefully crafted training program that provided coaching and mentoring for everyone in the program. They also showed flexibility in how workers did their work and avoided the one-size-fits-all approach that typically fits nobody. They were set up for success through good program design. 

The overall findings of the pilot program provide strong evidence in support of a four-day workweek in the UK. The benefits for workers, employers, and the wider community are clear, and the challenges associated with implementation can be overcome with careful planning and collaboration. 92% of companies are continuing with the program. Employees were very pleased with the program. 15% of employees said that no amount of money would induce them to go back to a five-day schedule. 

It is important for employers to take the findings of the pilot program into account when considering changes to the standard work week. While a four-day workweek may not be feasible or desirable for all industries, it is a viable option for many. 

The four-day workweek is working for employees and employers. What's good for people is good for organizations. Work can be better for everyone. 

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