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Is a Four Day Workweek the Next Trend in Employee Benefits?

Posted by John Barrett on Mar 2, 2023 8:58:55 AM

The idea of a four day workweek isn’t entirely new, but has been highly trending over the last year. The sudden buzz in conversation comes after the largest four day workweek trial reported overwhelmingly positive results and urged other companies around the world to consider the switch. Could a shorter workweek improve your business model and employee productivity?

The Impact of a Shorter Work Week

The five day work week was implemented in 1926 after Henry Ford introduced the 40-hour work week at his Ford Motor company plants. The model has been standard ever since and abides by specific labor laws that prohibit businesses from forcing labor beyond 40 hours without paying overtime. Even though 40 hours has been standard for decades since the 1990’s there have been experiments on shorter workweeks, and questions on whether or not the current model is actually best for productivity.

The recent studies done by the University of Cambridge in tandem with researchers from Boston College revealed that the four day work model is, in most cases, preferable to both employees and business owners. Employees reported a huge increase in job happiness, with 71 percent experiencing less burnout, 39 percent experiencing less stress, and 48 percent more satisfied with their jobs. In general, employees reported feeling happier with their lives, and more energized to take on various responsibilities.

A large concern for businesses testing the model was whether their productivity and revenue would suffer from the loss of the fifth workday. The research showed that the opposite is true, and most companies involved in the trial saw a significant increase in productivity and revenue. Some companies reported up to a 34% increase in productivity, while others reported a 1.4% increase in revenue. While the revenue wasn’t dramatically higher, it had no decrease whatsoever - even with fewer hours. Additionally, there were fewer resignations, sick days, and absentees. Of the 61 companies that participated in the recent study, 56 plan to continue the four day work structure for the foreseeable future. That’s a 91% success rate overall for the trial.

The takeaways from the study for businesses are that a shorter work week can:

  • Promote efficiency and productivity
  • Increase employee happiness and wellbeing
  • Decrease resignations
  • Decrease employee absences
  • Increase revenue
  • Decrease burnout
  • Increase sales
  • Decrease operation costs
  • Maintain competition in the job market

Will a Four Day Work Week Cost You?

While you may think cutting your workdays could lose you money, the opposite results have been shown in multiple studies. If businesses are closed for an additional day each week, you could decrease your overall operations costs like electricity, maintenance, and transportation stipends. If you rent a coworking space, one less day of rental fees could add up to an extensive amount each month and year.

Additionally, in the long run, the reduction in turnover will save your business new hire and recruitment costs. There are both short-term and long-term financial benefits to a four day workweek and these benefits apply to both the employee and employer.

Should Your Business Make the Switch?

A four day workweek isn’t possible for every business. For example, educators, healthcare workers, or businesses that have to be open 24/7 likely can’t cut their hours. However, for many modern businesses, especially in the remote world, it's an option to consider. Not too long ago, working from home was considered an outlandish benefit that employees should not expect. Today, high numbers of employees will leave a job or turn down an offer if remote is not an option.

The four day workweek could be the next “remote first” benefit. Today's employment market is an employee-first approach, and businesses that don’t take the trending benefits into consideration could have a hard time getting strong applications. Additionally, based on the recent evidence, there is no risk associated with the change. A four day workweek will promote better results across the board.

Plus, a four day workweek can be managed on varying terms. Some businesses have cut hours down to 32 per week, while others have kept the 40 hours, but within a 4 day time span. The idea is to provide employees with an extra day away from work to recharge, and take care of their personal needs.

Why Your Employee Benefits Matter

Offering your employees competitive benefits shows them that your business is invested in both their professional role within the organization and their personal well-being. A strong employee benefits package can improve employee retention, and make your business more attractive to potential employees. There are so many aspects to take into consideration, and the demand for benefits changes all the time. Health, dental, and vision insurance are the standard needs of a benefits package, but there are ample additions that should be considered. What type of PTO do you offer? Do you have flexible hours? Do you provide wellness stipends or waived subscriptions for wellness apps? Offering solid benefits with qualified providers will increase your value as a business, and the output from your employees.

Benefits Solutions with ECBM

Benefits come at a cost to every business, but providing high-quality packages doesn’t need to burden your business financially. Our team can help you optimize your benefits package with high-value low-cost solutions, regardless of your industry. Our experts are regularly training in market changes, so we can provide the most up-to-date benefits solutions for your business. For more information on our services, contact one of our agents today.