Could a four-day week model work for your business?
More than 3000 employees across 60 companies in the UK are geared up for what is being dubbed as the world’s biggest trial of the new working pattern this month. The pilot programme is a six-month trial, organised by campaigners 4 Day Week and in collaboration with UK think tank Autonomy. It’s based on the simple idea that an employee works for four days a week, instead of the routine five days, and the pilot follows the “100:80:100” model which translates as 100% pay for 80% of the time. This is followed by ensuring thorough commitment towards 100% productivity.
Will it work for businesses?
According to research by the organisation behind the trial, 78% of employees revealed to be happier and less stressed while working a slightly shorter week, however it’s only viable for those businesses prepared to adjust their entire business model to a new way of working.
This highlights the need for businesses to adopt new strategies to maintain productivity levels within the workplace, with the great resignation and recent pandemic forcing employees to re-evaluate their priorities.
Some experts believe that the general workforce may prefer to work for an organisation that follows a more relaxed and flexible environment, without having to worry about job burnout. With this in mind, the proposed trial may prove to be a deal-breaker for businesses ranging from small industries to large multi-national corporations that are constantly examining ways to ensure their employees remain satisfied, happy and engaged.
What are the potential benefits?
Many workers, without a doubt, are attracted to the concept of a shorter working week. And there are also plenty of organisations that have already adopted it as a standard practice and are claiming the benefits of a fresh schedule working four days a week.
An additional day of leave may help employees free up personal time to spend an extra day with family and friends, successfully balancing their work and personal lives. This can positively impact their mood and mental health; ultimately reducing stress levels without a change in job performance.
Productivity in the workplace and the mental health of an employee are heavily interlinked to each other. Research has proven that poor mental health among employees has an adverse effect on their work productivity, including a lack of motivation, an increase in sickness absences and mental exhaustion.
Other benefits include a lower carbon footprint through less travel time, a more equal workplace as employees are able to better juggle childcare and work commitments, and more time for ’life admin’ such as appointments, household chores and shopping – leaving the weekend free to be enjoyed to the full!
Any drawbacks to the scheme?
With Elon Musk recalling his Tesla employees to work for a minimum of 40 hours per week, it will be interesting to observe how many businesses will implement the pilot programme on a permanent basis.
It also needs to be considered that the scheme may be more complex for a few sectors to implement. Industries such as the aviation industry are already facing the brunt of labour shortages with long queues and flight cancellations. In these tough circumstances, it would be complicated for management teams to roll out the trial for a reduced hours work scheme in the current climate.
Also, small businesses and start-ups may find themselves in a tricky financial situation where they must pay the exact same amount for reduced hours. These emerging businesses may also find it inconvenient to put this into action, with a requirement for staff to work a full week in order to fulfil the growing demands.
However, it will be fascinating to see how these new developments unfold – and the reaction of workforces in response to the change in the coming months.
For additional information and support on how to implement the four-day work scheme in your organisation, seek an independent HR advisor for guidance.