What we think
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Four-day working week… our thoughts.29th March 2023
With hybrid/ remote working well and truly becoming the norm after we were all forced into it during the pandemic, could another huge shift to the UK workforce be on the horizon… the four-day working week? The first four-day week pilot came to an end last month after 6 months, and the results were more than positive with a 92% success rate. 56 out of 61 companies decided to extend the four-day week going forward, with 18 of them making it permanent.
What’s in it for employers?
The number of sick days taken during the trial fell by about two-thirds and 57% fewer staff left the firms taking part compared with the same period last year. This indicates that a four-day week will help with talent retention and save money on recruitment and training. Most companies reported that they were satisfied with productivity and business performance.
Why could the four-day working week help with retention?
Since the pandemic, the impact of modern work culture is increasingly evident. The post-pandemic Great Resignation saw millions leaving their jobs. When people aren’t leaving their jobs, they are fighting for better pay and conditions.
With the four-day week, employees have more free time than ever, and the benefits are innumerable. 71% of employees in the trial reported lower levels of burnout, while half were more satisfied with their job and the majority reported improved mental health and lower levels of anxiety.
Then there’s the obvious benefit of the four-day week model – that it promotes a better work-life balance; 62% of workers found it easier to balance their job with their social life.
If people are feeling healthier, have more time for themselves and can do more of the things they want to outside of work. Then it makes sense that they can be happier in the workplace and are less likely to want to leave. Basically, this new pattern works around their lives better. This is evidenced by 15% of workers who took part in the trial saying that no amount of money could make them go back to working a five-day week.
With all these benefits, why aren’t we all doing it?
A four-day working week unfortunately won’t be suitable for all businesses. But even for those who it is, its not possible to roll it out overnight.
Adapting to this way of working is a big step, so lots of thought needs to go into if its right or doable for your company. It’s an option that is only viable for companies who can re-adapt their business to a new way of working.
It is also worth considering the fact that employees will likely end up working longer hours each day – if the same level of work is expected then it makes sense they will need to work a similar amount of hours to do this. Could this have a significant effect on your employees’ stress levels and their over-all well-being and productivity? All needs exploring.
If the aim is to roll out this way of working across most of the economy (and there is definitely some initial evidence to suggest this could be beneficial). There needs to be more trialing and government involvement. It needs testing in the public sector to see if it will work there. Further down the line campaigners are hoping government will legislate a four-day week.
There is definitely a lot to be done before we can call the four-day working week a universal reality. Steps are definitely being taken in the right direction. Let’s wait and see!
Seven are experts in FMCG, consumer and retail recruitment.
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