Is a four-day week in your future?
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At this time of year our thoughts often look to the future and what 2024 might hold!  The four-day week is still a relatively new concept. We know that some of you are already doing it and others may be thinking of it for next year or beyond. It has also recently been back in the headlines again as the government does not support its use in Local Authorities. However, since our last blog on the subject was written the results of the Global four-day week trial have been published. These do provide some positive feedback and we wanted to update you on the findings as we head towards 2024!

What does a four-day week look like ?

A four-day week is exactly what it sounds like, people work for four days with three days off – rather than the traditional five days in and two days off at the weekend. This doesn’t have to mean a Monday or a Friday off – it could be any day of the week.

If your standard working week is 35 hours employees would be expected to work around 28 hours over the four days not just cram 35 hours into 4 working days.  The employee would still receive the pay you used to pay them to do the 35 hour week.

You can’t just apply the changes to full-time staff so you would need to work out how to make this work for part-time employees too.

The Global Trial

Whilst lots of businesses have trialed a four-day week the learnings of the 4 Day Week Campaign are helpful to look at. This trial guided 61 companies with around 3,000 employees through a six-month trial of a four-day a week working with no loss of five day a week pay.  If you would like to read about the study in more detail the report can be found here.

What sort of business took part in the trial ?

A number of businesses agreed to be named in the trial and they ranged from a fish and chop shop to not for profit organisations. The trial included  private sector businesses (such as PR companies and professional services) as well as those in the retail, hospitality, construction and care sectors.

Positive Business Results

  • 92%of businesses that took part decided to continue with the four-day week after the pilot.
  • The vast majority of companies were satisfied that business performance and productivity was maintained
  • Companies’ revenue stayed broadly the same, rising by 1.4% on average.
  • There was a 65% reduction in the number of sick days
  • There was a substantial decline (57%) in the likelihood that an employee would quit

Positive Impact For Employees

  • Over the six-month trial period, stress and burnout for employees both significantly declined with 71% of employees reporting lower levels of burnout
  • Reported levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased, while mental and physical health both experienced improvements.
  • Measures of work-life balance improved. Employees who responded found it easier to balance their work with both family and social commitments, and were more satisfied with their household finances, relationships and how their time was being managed.

Thinking of taking the plunge?

If the four-day week could be in your future plans it is definitely worth having a look at the 4 day a week website as they do have lots of useful case studies and research freely available.

You will need to consider the following practical points

  1. Set a reasonable trial period and don’t commit permanently at the outset, six months is probably the minimum trial period to evaluate it
  2. Think about your service delivery- can everyone have the same day off or will you need to stagger?
  3. Don’t forget your existing part time staff! You will need to work out how to make things fair to them.
  4. Consider the impact on how you manage holiday and ask staff to agree a temporary reduction in holiday to reflect the shorter working week.
  5. Managing Sick pay – if you offer enhanced sick pay you will also need to consider how this works so that you don’t accidentally increase entitlement.
  6. How will you know if it has worked, think about some key performance indictors (KPI’s) that will show the trial has been successful e.g. reduction in absence, easier to recruit, staff engagement, increase in productivity and business performance

If you have more questions about a four-day working week then you can reach out to us for HR advice. Get in touch on 0333 014 3888 or email for more information about our expert HR services and friendly advice.

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