If many people are already working a four-day work week, why not you?
If you can’t do it in four days you are probably not doing it in five
It’s often been said that if you are consistently working more than 50 hours a week then your health is at risk
The four-day workweek won’t be right for every business, but it’s not an impossible thing to implement and could be your answer to your continuing struggles.
All too often, the workweek turns into a countdown to Friday, the quality of work and the quality of life are absent. Time seems to slow down from Wednesday to Friday and then hit light speed over the weekend. Then Monday rolls around, and we head back to the office feeling like we never left.
Why is it that two days off never seem like enough to recharge our batteries? Part of the problem is that the typical workweek has slowly stretched beyond 40 hours. A Gallup survey found that most full-time employees now work an average of 47 hours a week, seven hours more than the normal 40 hour week. Thirty-nine percent work more than 50 hours a week.
“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming”. Helen Keller
Those hours add up and slowly begin to wear down employees and their productivity. It’s time for employers to give their workforce a break. And one of the best ways to do that is by switching to a four-day workweek.
And while you are at it why don’t you also switch to a four-day week instead of the punishing hours you are working at present. You will find one of the best ways to do this is to learn all you can about delegating and outsourcing.
Here’s the case for making Thursday the new Friday
Companies are going to great lengths to offer talent more and more benefits in an effort to attract better employees. The 2016 Society for Human Resource Management Employee benefits reports found that 33 percent of organisations had increased the number of benefits they provide over the last year.
The trick, however, is to actually offer perks employees want. Free snacks and pet insurance are nice but don’t appeal to as many people as an extra day off. A job that provides better work-life balance and enhances their lifestyle is something that truly attracts the best job seekers.
A 2016 Jobvite study found that 41 percent of talent see work-life balance as one of the most valuable things they look for in a job. Furthermore, a 2015 FlexJobs survey found that 30 percent of employees would take a 10-20 percent pay cut if it meant having a more flexible work schedule. Switching to four-day workweek will give you a competitive advantage in recruiting that talent.
Quality over quantity of work
In many cases, more work does not mean better work. Anyone who’s worked an all-nighter before knows that at some point even the simplest task will take you twice as long to complete as time goes on. So while, yes, employees are in the office longer, they’re not producing high-quality work.
Employees get burnt out. A 2016 Staples Business Advantage survey found that half of working adults feel overworked. Without sufficient time to recuperate, employees health and their productivity suffer.
And what makes matters worse is, even when employees do go home, they still can’t relieve the work stress. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that 44 percent of workers can’t sleep at night because they’re thinking about work.
That, in turn, negatively impacts their work the following day. And the cycle continues. Sixty-one percent of employees said being tired hurt the quality of their performance.
By moving to a four-day workweek, everybody has the chance to rest, decompress, and come back into the office ready to go. You might be surprised how much better employees perform in less time.
Before you scoff and say “There’s no way a company can make more if its employees are doing less”, remember that there’s not less work being produced, but better. And if that doesn’t convince you, ask Ryan Carson, the founder of Treehouse, who reports over $10 million in yearly sales and 120% annual revenue growth, not despite, but because his company uses a four-day workweek.
The shortened week can also help you save on other expenses. Research from Harvard and Stanford found that workplace stress costs the country anywhere between $125 billion to $190 billion dollars a year. Specifically, for employers, that means higher health care cost, lost clients due to poor customer service, and expensive employee turnover.
Four-day work week options
So we’ve established that the four-day workweek is great in theory, now for the tricky part, finding a way to implement it. Not every option is going to be feasible at every organisation or for every employee role. For example, it’s not a good idea to give every employee in the customer service department Friday off, leaving no one to tend to customers on that day.
Some companies choose to use staggered four, 10-hour day schedules for their employees. Employees alternate between having Monday or Friday off, so there’s always someone in the office working. While this model works well for a lot of companies, note that it does take a bit of planning and foresight.
Other companies, like Reusser Design, choose to change the hours of the entire business. They switched to a 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday schedule back in 2013. The biggest benefit they found in this change was the increased focus. With longer work days, employees were able to concentrate on projects longer improving the quality of what they produced.
Another option is having employees get bi-weekly days off. They work a full week and then a shortened one the following. This is a good way to reward hard work and allow employees to recharge every other week.
Only offering four-day work weeks part of the year is another possibility. Some companies like Basecamp shorten their weeks to 32 hours during the summer months. That way, employees get to enjoy their summers more.
Obviously making a four-day workweek function is not easy for some businesses. But when you look at the benefits that come along with it, like easier recruiting, happier, more productive employees, and higher profits, there’s no reason to not give it a try.
Using some of the ideas mentioned here you may even be able to operate your business seven days a week giving employees the option to work days and times that suit them. Remember some people like working on weekends and having weekdays off. Even greater benefits can be derived if employees can work from home.
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The four-day workweek won’t be right for every company, but it’s not an impossible perk to implement. By allowing employees a four-day week you’ll be improving work-life balance, improving lifestyles, increasing productivity, relieving pressure and stress, improving health and well-being and attracting great talent.
And isn’t that something worth pursuing?
Is this one way of working smarter than harder, a way to improve yours and your employee’s lifestyles. We all want to work less, don’t we? But what would that look like? And what would it mean for the business and the economy?