Most people spend their time at work thinking about all the things they could be doing outside of work. In today's world, we admit that most people need and want more of a life/work balance. As a business or company owner, you've likely heard about a new trend that revolves around a four-day work week.
How does it work? How will you get the same productivity when you have fewer days of working? Is it something that can work for your company? To help you understand the benefits of working four days a week, let's talk about the many pros, and a few cons, of trying to work in this way.
Benefits Of a 4-Day Work Week
The goal of considering a 4-day work week is simple. Most companies who do it have a desire to lessen stress and help employees have more balance in their work/life. We admit that it may not be the perfect or ideal solution for every company out there, but we do feel it is worth considering the benefits to see if it will work for your business.
Gives Everyone Time for Their Personal Errands
Most people spend five days a week at work. We spend eight hours a day focusing on our job. In many ways, this is a reasonable expectation for employers to have. However, if you work five days a week, Monday through Friday, it may limit your ability to take care of personal needs outside the office. Things which may only be possible to take care of during those five days. Your employee then may stress over the things they cannot do or end up missing work to do them. Both are bad options. We don't need stressed workers and you lose productivity by having them miss work.
With a 4-day work week, you give your employees a day. This will allow them to take care of their needs. You will also get the productivity that you need from them, same as you would for a 40-hour week. The easiest "solution" is to work 10-hour days instead of 8-hour days.
Cons: The downside comes for companies that may need to be fully operational 7-days a week. How do you bust up everyone's schedule so not just a few people always get the three-day weekend? The truth is, your employees can work four-days a week and have their day off anytime during the week. If you need employees there at all times, schedule so that employees may get three days off in a row or a couple of days here and then an extra one on Wednesday. The goal is to ensure that people get time off, not just on Saturday and Sunday for time with their kids and family, but to make their life easier throughout the week.
It Pays the Same!
In most cases, overtime pay comes into it after an employee has worked above and beyond 40-hours in a single week. This means that whether your employees work for 40-hours in four days or in five days, you are not required to pay them any differently than you are now. The only time that will change is if you need them to cover an extra day or work an hour or two over.
Cons: The exception to this rule is places like California where employees are given overtime pay for working more than 8-hours in a single day, unless you meet certain exemptions. The exemptions cover 10-hour days and four-day work weeks as well as other employee hour combinations.
Increased Productivity for Your Business
As odd as it may sound, fewer days per week for employees can actually increase the productivity within your company. Employees are also more engaged and happier to spend time at work. You will see less employee turnover as well because most people are not willing to give up having that extra day per week to do what they want to do.
As proven by Microsoft Japan, you could see a productivity increase of approximately 40% and save money in other areas, such as your electricity bills. These same impressive results have been noticed by other companies as well.
Mini Vacations More Often
Who doesn't enjoy a vacation from work? When you can give employees a three-day weekend more often, they will be able to take a trip, go camping or visit family that may not live nearby more often. These little mini vacations will be something that they enjoy.
However, you will still have to figure out your "standard" vacation policies. Most companies provide vacation time based on hours worked. For instance, an hour of vacation time earned for X hours completed at work. This is fine, considering the hours will stay the same and you do not need to update any of your policies. If you are on a different schedule, you may have to put in a little more effort.
Is a 4-Day Work Week Right for Your Company?
No one can decide what is best for you or your employees, but you. We are simply here to point out that it could be something you want to consider if your employees are dealing with burnout or you are experiencing a high turnover rate.
We can say that making the switch may not be best for some people or some company situations. A parent whose daycare is only open from 8am-5pm may not be able to easily manage working a 10-hour day. How do you tell them that they should find a solution without adding to their stress rather than lessening it? Perhaps you can work around this by offering a work-around solution for it. For instance, you could let them continue to work 8-hour days or encourage them to work from home on that 5-day.
An easy way to find out whether it is a good option for your business is to try it out. You can give it a test run for a couple of months to see if it is a good choice for your business and your employees.
If you would like to know more about working shorter work weeks, transitioning to a partially home-based company, or anything else, we are here to help. Our only goal is to help you and your employees develop a better work/life balance.