Organizations worldwide are switching to a 4-day workweek to boost employee wellbeing. Bolt, Buffer, Kickstarter, and Polar are just a few to mention. The Wanderlust Group has doubled its revenue after taking this step.

A four-day workweek isn’t the same as part-time work. With this approach, employees still get 100% of their salary and benefits, but they’re expected to be more productive and engaged.

Employers can benefit from transitioning to reduced working hours, too.

For example, a 2019 study found that flexible working arrangements (FWAs), such as a four-day workweek, can increase employee engagement and reduce costs. What’s more, FWAs may result in lower turnover and higher productivity.

However, this approach doesn’t work for every industry and organization. If, say, you operate a call center or consulting firm, there may be better ways to do things.

With that in mind, here’s what you should know about the four-day week movement before jumping on the bandwagon.

What Does a 4-Day Workweek Look Like?

Four-day workweeks include 32 hours instead of 40. This work arrangement is supposed to drive productivity, cut costs, and reduce burnout. Proponents say it can also improve work-life balance while allowing employees to get more done in less time.

More than half of U.S. employees reported having a poor work-life balance in 2019. About 40% said they worked too many hours, while 30% believed their work was too demanding. Such circumstances can increase stress and burnout, leading to diminished productivity.

A healthy work-life balance seems to be more important than health benefits. In fact, it’s the second most valued aspect among job seekers—after compensation. Given these aspects, it’s not surprising that more and more companies are offering flexible work arrangements.

Some countries, including the UK, Sweden, Iceland, and Japan, are trying to implement this initiative at a national level. For example, Japan’s economic policy encourages companies to offer four-day workweeks. The Covid-19 crisis has further fueled this trend.

The structure of a four-day workweek varies from industry to industry and from one company to the next. Some organizations allow employees to stay home on Fridays, while others give them the option to choose their day off. Alternatively, you may allow workers to take Wednesdays off.

All in all, there are no hard rules on what this work arrangement should look like. As an entrepreneur, you need to consider your industry, business size, goals, and other factors before taking this step.

Why Switch to a Four-Day Workweek?

Most companies switch to four-day workweeks to increase productivity and efficiency. Working fewer hours can boost job satisfaction and reduce stress, allowing employees to give their best.

Employee burnout has been linked to poor work performance, diminished productivity, and mental health issues. In the long run, it may contribute to heart disease, anxiety, depression, and binge drinking, among other problems. You can’t expect your staff members to perform at their best when they’re sick, tired, or sleep-deprived.

Stress and burnout can affect an organization’s bottom line, leading to higher turnover and low employee engagement. Over time, these factors may result in revenue loss and hurt a company’s reputation.

Flexible work arrangements can reduce job stress, benefiting both employers and employees. Plus, they make it easier to attract top talent and drive employee loyalty.

Other benefits may include:

  • Fewer missed deadlines
  • Less absenteeism
  • Higher revenue
  • Happier customers
  • Reduced human error
  • Better work-life balance
  • Happier, healthier employees
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Lower operational costs
  • Higher retention rates

Henley Business School found that employees who have their working hours reduced are happier, less stressed, and more engaged. Over 60% of companies that implemented this work arrangement found it easier to attract and retain talent. The study was conducted in the UK, but its findings apply to organizations from all around the world.

For example, a New Zealand-based company reported a 7% decrease in employee stress levels and a 24% improvement in work-life balance after implementing a four-day workweek.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

This work arrangement may look good on paper, but it has its drawbacks.

For starters, the benefits of switching to a four-day workweek may not last long. After the novelty wears off, your employees might lose interest and return to their old habits. They may become less productive, begin to miss deadlines, or find excuses for skipping work.

What’s more, this work model doesn’t necessarily address the root cause of employee dissatisfaction. Your team members may be unhappy with their duties, the upper management, or other aspects, such as their daily commute. Working fewer hours won’t solve these issues.

Another aspect to consider is that you may need to invest in additional software to compensate for the reduction in work hours. Chances are, you’ll end up spending extra on automation and productivity tools or new equipment. A four-day workweek may initially reduce business costs, but you might incur other expenses.

Employees are also expected to work harder after having their hours reduced, which can lead to burnout.

As a manager, you’ll have to spend more time chasing clients, scheduling meetings, and planning things out. Plus, you may have to approach project management differently than usual—and that can result in business disruption and higher costs.

Last but not least, this work arrangement might not work for every company and employee.

Generally, it’s not the best choice for service businesses, retailers, construction firms, and companies in the hospitality sector. The same goes for hospitals, clinics, airlines, and other businesses.

Should You Implement a Four-Day Workweek?

Switching to a 4-day workweek may seem ideal for some companies, but its benefits are subject to debate.

On the one hand, this approach can boost employee productivity, happiness, and morale, resulting in higher revenue. On the other hand, it can be costly to implement and may lead to increased stress and burnout.

The decision is up to you. Review your business goals, discuss with your staff, and consider your customers’ needs.

Not sure what to do next? Our team can help! Contact us to discuss your business needs and discover the best ways to attract, retain, and engage talent.