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Considering a Four-day Workweek

Employers everywhere are beginning to see the direct link between employee well-being and company success.

A recent survey reported that 31% of U.S. employees would be willing to give up a portion of their salary to have an improved work-life balance—which has been shown to greatly increase employee productivity, retention and overall well-being. Although initiatives such as flexible work hours and the ability to work remotely are yielding great results, some companies are taking it a step further by shortening their workweek.

Many employers are finding the traditional five-day workweek to be outdated—and employees seem to agree. In fact, a recent survey found that about 70% of U.S. workers felt they could complete their work in less than their normal allotted time—and almost 45% of those respondents said they could complete their work in less than five hours if uninterrupted. In response, some employers have adopted a four-day workweek at their company and have experienced varying results.

Pros of a Four-day Workweek

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only about 15% of U.S. employers are offering a four-day workweek. Although the sample size is small, some companies have seen positive results—including some large corporations such as Microsoft Corp. and Shake Shack Inc. In fact, Microsoft Japan had reported seeing a 40% increase in productivity after their facility implemented a four-day workweek. Common benefits of a shortened work-week can include the following:

  • Improved employee productivity and engagement—Having a shortened work-week pushes employees to accomplish the same workload more efficiently.
  • Increased employee wellness—Giving employees an extra day off a week can improve their work-life balance while reducing employee burnout.
  • Greater retention rates—Typically, if employees are happy and feel cared for by their employer, they are likely to stay with the company longer.

Cons of a Four-day Workweek

Some employers have tried to initiate a four-day workweek and ended up switching back to a traditional five-day workweek after encountering negative results. Four-day workweeks can negatively affect both the company and the employee in a variety of areas, such as:

  • Personal development—When employees are solely focused on getting their immediate tasks done to accommodate a shortened workweek, there is less time available to work on personal development initiatives.
  • Employee relationships—With less time for socialization, employee and departmental relationships can suffer.
  • Productivity—Some employees may take advantage of the shortened schedule and choose to be unproductive. This may result in unfinished tasks and your company losing money on unproductive work hours.

Is a Four-day Workweek Right for Your Company?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a four-day workweek will be effective. The relationship between your company and its employees, the current structure of your company and the work ethic of your employees can play a huge role in the effectiveness of a shortened workweek. If keeping your employees on task is already difficult or if there’s a lack of respect between management and workers, you may want to consider a different initiative to improve employee well-being and productivity.

Consult with leadership teams and employees to get a clear understanding of the needs and wants of your workers before implementing a four-day workweek. In some cases, flexible schedules and the ability to work remotely may be enough to increase employee productivity and wellness.


For more tips about encouraging workplace wellness, contact Sentinel Group today.

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