A UK six-month pilot of a 4-day working week, with no pay reduction, is set to launch in June of this year.
The program which will reduce hours to 32 per week, whilst not impacting compensation, has seen 30 companies sign up so far.
The trial is part of the movement by not-for-profit community, 4 Day Week Global in partnership with 4 Day Week Campaign. Researchers at Oxford University, Cambridge University and Boston College will also be part of the study.
The modern-day office workforce has seen plenty of upheaval and changes over the past 2 years. Before the pandemic, such massive changes would have been laughed at.
But there is no denying that the outcomes of these changes have proved many people wrong. It has proved that the way we work can change rapidly and for many, the changes have had a much more positive outcome than anticipated for both employer and employee.
We have adapted to flexible working like never before, so it seems like as good a time as any to trial even more revolutionary changes to the workforce. But just as HR teams were coming to terms with the impact brought by the pandemic, would a 4-day work-week cause an even bigger headache?
For HR professionals a 4-day work week could be a daunting prospect. There are so many aspects a company needs to consider and put in place before they can be confident that such an initiative will bring positive change to both the business and its employees.
In this article, we’ve listed some of the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide if a 4-day work week is right for your business and steps your HR team should take to help your company with its consideration of a 4-day work week.
Productivity levels and Employee Engagement
A long weekend makes everyone that little bit happier, right? Imagine being able to look forward to one every week.
An extensive study carried out by Oxford University’s Business School in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT, found a conclusive link between happiness and productivity.
One of the most reported and recognised pros of a 4-day working week is the increase in productivity. Increased productivity levels have a domino effect on employee engagement and the reduction of sick days.
Put simply a rested, happy worker is a productive worker.
Recruitment & Retention
There is no doubt that the millennial is changing the way we work and signing the contract or staying at a job goes way beyond the compensation. It often comes down to the finer details and the work life balance a company can offer. A 4-day work week is something that would stand out to this new age talent.
Physical and Mental Wellbeing
This one pretty much speaks for itself. More time for personal hobbies, more time with family, more time for exercise, more time to reduce stress before starting back on Monday.. the list goes on!
Environmental Impact & Cost Savings
Not only would carbon emissions drop by not travelling to the office every day, but businesses would also see a drop in office running costs. Employees would also save money on travel expenses and cut costs with other expenses like coffees and lunches.
Whilst there are many campaigners for a 4-day work week, the critics have some concerns:
Not all industries could participate
Obviously, not all industries could participate in a 4-day week. This could lead to major staff shortages as employees move away from particular industries to join companies that are able to reduce hours. This could see an increase in inequalities between certain sectors of society.
Work Related Stress
We have seen a lot of arguments for the 4-day working week decreasing work related stress. But unless you have the right company culture in place, stress could rise. Some people may end up working longer hours throughout their 4 days or even working the 5 days anyway to ensure they are staying on top of their workload.
Before any decision is made, it is essential that HR Teams undertake plenty of research and preparation to ensure this initiative aligns with the business culture.
Steps for HR teams to take in the consideration process
1. Define your goals and metrics
What is it that you really want to achieve from a 4-day work week? This is where you need to consider what the desired goals would be from implementing this initiative and how you plan to measure these.
A good idea here is to run focus groups with different departments and pick up on any potential problems and regularly voiced concerns. This would also give you a good feel of how the company as a whole is feeling about the potential shift.
2. Consider the potential impact on customers and stakeholders
Customer service must not be negatively impacted. This may sound obvious, but it is crucial to investigate the type of work that your company does and whether a 4-day work week is a viable option for you. This is where it may get a little complicated for some companies and payroll departments if the day’s off are staggered across the week between departments.
If flexible working is causing problems or concerns with your payroll, Phase 3 can help. We are the CIPP’s Payroll Service Provider of the Year, and our team of experts are there to step in- whatever the issue.
3. Consider the importance of training and how long it would take the company to adapt
With any new initiative, it can take a while for managers and team members to understand and adapt. Define your rules and processes and educate across the board on what they will mean.
4. Try it out before permanently implementing
The evidence will speak for itself.
Is your company interested in more flexible working?
If the recent news has got you thinking about what the repercussions could be if your company implemented a 4-day week, this could be payroll related concerns, holiday entitlement or questions about your overall HR processes, Phase 3 can help. We’re a HR software consultancy that helps HR teams improve their HR and payroll processes and find the right HR software for their needs. If you’d like to hear how we can help you contact us here to find out more.
Follow us on LinkedIn to stay in touch with the latest HR tech trends.