A 4 day working week trial will officially begin in the UK from June 1, giving employees the option of an extended weekend with no loss of pay. Sixty firms with 3,000 staff have signed up to take part in a pilot run by campaign group 4 Day Week Global – and it will run for six months, across a number of sectors, including marketing agencies, engineering firms, recruiters and retailers. By examining the 4-day working week, businesses will work with researchers to record the impact on productivity and also track worker wellbeing and the impact on the environment and gender equality. But what are the benefits to all involved?
What have previous four day working week pilots found?
At the end of 2020, Henley Business School surveyed 505 business leaders and more than 2,000 employees in the UK to better understand the impact of the four day working week on Britain’s modern workforce.
Their findings included:
- ⅔ of businesses reported improvements in staff productivity.
- 78% said staff were happier.
- 70% said staff were less stressed.
- 62% said staff took fewer days off ill.
- 63% said a four-day working week helped them to attract and retain workers.
- 40% of employees used the extra day off to develop professional skills.
- 25% said they used the extra day to volunteer.
It is well-known that an overworked employee is much less productive than an employee working a reasonable number of hours and staff are more productive when given time to rest and relax adequately. They will be less burnt out from long working hours and will be more productive at their jobs.
Increased attraction of new employees
Employees are constantly searching for careers with increased flexibility and personalisation so by offering a 4-day working week, employers can increase the flexibility they offer their employees, ultimately attracting more employees and offering a competitive advantage for hiring.
Not only does a 4-day working week increase the attractiveness of an organisation to potential employees, but it also helps them retain the employees they already have. Staff enjoy working at a company where management places employee satisfaction first, and feel valued and an important cog in the wheel. A strong work ethic will develop as loyalty on both sides is evident.
Improved work/life balance
Giving employees an extra personal day allows them to work on personal projects, hobbies, and spend more time with their families. Working long hours contributes to stress, which in turn can have negative health effects on workers, whereas an Improved work-life balance helps employees be healthier and ready to work.
The introduction of a decreased working week would provide employees the opportunity to better balance their work and life commitments. One of the largest contributors to the widened gap between employed female and male workers is the lack of flexible policies surrounding childcare. Most employees who take leave of absences are women needing time off for childcare, so a 4 day working week would eliminate this gendered gap in available working hours, providing a more equitable approach to accommodating the familial needs of employees.
For further information on examining the 4-day working week and the benefits to employees and businesses as well as any other HR related issues, please contact us here.