The pandemic has changed the working world and we’ve all had to adapt to find our new place within it. Many companies recognise this and have permanently switched to remote or hybrid working in order to allow their employees more flexibility and a better work-life balance.
It should also be recognised that it’s currently very much an employees’ market; job vacancies are at a record high - 1,288,000 in January-March 2022 - so retaining valued staff has never been more important.
With people not afraid to leave roles and shying away from applying for ones that do not fit in with their post-pandemic lives, employers must take steps to ensure that their staff are happy and that the employment packages they are offering to new joiners is attractive.
The idea of a four-day working week is becoming increasingly popular with organisations and is gathering momentum as the start of a six-month trial in the UK kicks off this week.
More than 3,000 workers at 60 companies across the UK will take part in the trial, which will run from June to December 2021. The companies taking part are varied and include Royal Society of Biology, the London-based brewing company Pressure Drop, recruitment firm Girling Jones, and a fish and chip shop in Norfolk.
The trial will see participants being paid 100% of their salary for completing 80% of their usual working hours, but maintaining 100% productivity. In other words, a five-day working week will become a four-day week with a three-day weekend. Research shows that although the number of hours being worked drops, productivity increases as workers' motivation rises, enabling them to get more done in less time.
Joe O’Connor, the chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, said: “Increasingly, managers and executives are embracing a new model of work which focuses on quality of outputs, not quantity of hours. Workers have emerged from the pandemic with different expectations around what constitutes a healthy life-work balance.”
Companies that have tried the four-day week, but who are not part of the latest trial include the FTSE 100 consumer goods firm Unilever, the Japanese electronics firm Panasonic, and London’s app-based Atom Bank.
What are the advantages of a four-day week?
Improved productivity: The UK is known for its poor productivity - ONS figures show that output per hour worked in the UK was 15.1% below the average for the rest of the G7 advanced economies in 2016. Implementing a four-day week could combat that by boosting employees' motivation and enthusiasm for their work. In August 2019, Microsoft Japan implemented a four-day week internationally giving 2,300 employees five Fridays off in a row. The company’s productivity jumped 40% with meetings being more efficient and workers taking less time off.
A more attractive place to work: Companies operating a four-day week will find it easier to attract potential candidates as it’s a huge selling point. It’s also likely that you will see increased retention and innovation as well as reduced sickness absence.
Enhance your brand: Moving to a four-day week would position your business as a flexible, forward-thinking company that prioritises staff wellbeing. In addition to that, reducing the number of days worked would also reduce UK emissions as there would be fewer commutes.
Bridge the gender equality gap: If both adults in the family are working a four-day week, this would provide more opportunity for each to contribute more qually to their family’s caregiving needs. The 4 Day Week Campaign states that “women are far more likely to take an unequal share of caring responsibilities, often locking them out of full time, secure, well-paid work. A four-day week creates time for all workers to take on their fair share of caring.”
Find out more about implementing a four-day week with PETA…
We’re offering a one-day workshop, Implementing a Four-Day Working Week, at our Portsmouth training centre on Thursday 23 June. The day will be led by our Management and Leadership team and will kick off at 10am. Refreshments and a two-course business lunch is included.
This insightful workshop will look at the practical and legal implications of a four-day working week and explore strategies for determining if this concept is an innovative step forward for your business. Topics covered include:
The business case for a four-day working week
Implications of introducing a four-day working week on productivity, sustainability, employee motivation and wellbeing, customer satisfaction, staff retention and recruitment
Barriers and risks to the business
Case studies of companies who have successfully implemented this concept
Financial, legal and moral considerations
Sign up to receive news and updates...
Our customers have access to cutting edge information and insights, specifically tailored to them and their industry. Get the latest opinion and expert views through news, events, case studies and apprentice stories.