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Four-Day Workweek Continues to Gain Interest


A Toronto manufacturing company that employs 18 individuals adopted a four-day workweek, then found workers voluntarily came in on the weekends to wrap up a project. The workers seemed willing to make short-term sacrifices to preserve long-term work/life balance.

“They just came in because they knew there was a project that had to be finished and they didn't want productivity to fall. They wanted to make sure we keep doing the four-day workweek,” Zachary Toth, owner and president of Metex Corporation, told Business Insider.

They were willing to do more when it was needed, he said. “I've never had that before. It was just great to see it.”

In Vancouver, a CEO said recently that moving to a four-day workweek helped his company avoid layoffs during the pandemic. Leaders needed to cut spending by 25 percent to 30 percent, the CEO said, so he proposed reducing everyone’s salaries by 20 percent. Employees worked 32 hours, or four days, a week.

In July, a Colorado police department transitioned to a four-day workweek without a change to benefits or pay. Employees who previously worked four 10-hour days now work eight-hour days. Those who worked a five-day, eight-hour workweek now have a four-day, eight-hour week. Meetings are shorter or have been eliminated, and staffing levels have not changed, CNN reported.

While some companies are test-driving a four-day workweek, the majority of employers are sticking to a standard schedule. The 2023 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey found only 9 percent of organizations have implemented a four-day workweek. 

SHRM Online collected the following news articles and resources on the subject:

Employees Coming in on Weekends?

Despite the growing pains brought by the shorter workweek at Metex, the company plans to stick with it. Employees who want to keep the schedule voluntarily came in on weekends to wrap up a project.

(Business Insider)

How Far-Reaching Could the Four-Day Workweek Become?

While the evidence in favor of a four-day workweek is strong, some challenges still need to be considered before it can become widely adopted. Organizations need to weigh the pros and cons while considering their staff members’ individual needs when deciding whether this would be the best option for them.

For now, the shorter workweek may not be widespread, but there’s momentum around the globe to keep the experiment going. Small and midsize businesses are leading the charge, and large companies are beginning to take notice. Employers, employees and leaders alike will need to continue pushing for change if they want to see widespread adoption of the four-day workweek.

(MIT Sloan Management Review)

Is the 32-Hour Workweek Feasible in the US?

The four-day workweek gained momentum around the world in recent years.

A majority of employers who've tried the schedule, predominantly in Europe, plan to continue to pay employees for 40 hours for 32 hours of work. In Canada, an overwhelming majority—91 percent—of 1,449 senior managers surveyed by Robert Half favored some type of four-day workweek, although 45 percent favored a four-day week with employees working longer, 10-hour shifts.

But is a four-day, 32-hour workweek feasible in the U.S.?

(SHRM Online)

Viewpoint: Four-Day Workweek Will Never Happen!

All the blather about a theoretical shorter workweek and the equally theoretical so-called work/life balance is just that—blather, says HR tech entrepreneur David Pollard.

Many people cannot live on the one full-time job they have, he writes.

“We know for a fact that the current generation of so-called ‘middle class’ citizens requires two incomes just to feed, house and sunset student debt. So right now, people are already working two to three jobs just to get by.” Pollard thinks shorter workweeks and presumably smaller paychecks won’t get the job done.

(Medium)

Viewpoint: The Four-Day Workweek: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The Josh Bersin Company just completed a large study of the four-day workweek and the results are clear: Under the right conditions, it really works. The findings are very positive in favor of the shorter week: improvements in employee health and well-being; increases in productivity; and overall improvement in revenue, profit and customer service.

When implemented well, Bersin says, work-time reduction (many versions: six-hour workdays, half-day Fridays, nine-day fortnights) encourages companies to be more efficient, gives people a more flexible and fulfilling life, and forces the company to focus.

(Josh Bersin)

UK Companies Plan to Continue Four-Day Workweek

All but five of 61 companies that took part in a four-day working week trial in the U.K. say they will continue with the policy, according to study results released Feb. 21, 2023. The study involved 2,900 employees in the U.K., from a range of industries.

Researchers found that fewer workers quit or took sick days during the trial versus the same time the previous year. And of the 23 companies that shared sales numbers, on average these businesses saw a 35 percent jump in revenues compared to the same period in 2021. It is not clear whether any of these results are directly impacted by a change to the four-day week, however. 

(Business Insider)

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