Companies are finding more ways to attract and retain talent. Since the pandemic, flexibility has remained at the forefront. One of the new working models adopted by many companies across the world is the four-day work week under an alternate shift pattern. The challenge here is to work with the same workload but fewer hours. Leaders need to embrace the uncertainty that comes with new changes.
What is a four-day work week?
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to the four-day work week. Employers have implemented it in two different ways:
- Compressed work week
This implies that an employee is expected to work the usual 40 hours in a week but over four days, that is, 10 hours per day.
- Shortened work week
It represents a shorter working week with reduced hours. So, the employees work for only 32 hours in a four-day work week and continue working 8 hours a day while keeping the same salary. This model is called the 100:80:100 whereby employees receive 100% of their pay while working 80% of their time and giving 100% productivity.
What Are the Advantages of a 4-Day work week?
The advantages for employers and employees include:
- Work-life balance and flexibility lead to happier employees
- Higher productivity and efficiency
- Reduced absenteeism
- Better employee engagement
- Higher employee satisfaction
- Better attract and retain top talents
- Reduce carbon footprint
What Are the Disadvantages of a Four-Day work week?
Every new changes in any organization have its challenges and disadvantages. The four-day work week can result in:
- Increase stress and burnout due to the compressed work week
- Increased pressure with deadlines
- Not suitable for all industries
- Higher costs for some employers (labour costs to support on the fifth day when needed and overtime costs of longer working)
- Disrupted customer service and satisfaction if they expect a five-day-per-week service
How to implement a four-day work week?
Implementing a four-day work week can be a challenge as it requires the right support, technology and workplace culture. Each company and industry has their own approach how to implement the four-day work week.
1. Set clear goals
It is important to have clear goals for employees and management. What do you want to achieve? For example, to increase your organization’s efficiency, employee productivity employee engagement, retention rates etc.
Every area of a business is impacted by this new change – HR, legal, marketing, and each unit need to be involved in writing the policy that works most fairly for everyone to achieve maximum results. Ensure that every process put in place is documented and easily accessible.
Here are some points that need to be addressed:
- Whether you want a compressed or shortened work week
- Deciding with days or hours employees should take off
- How to avoid the changes impacting negatively on customers and other stakeholders?
- Defines KPI’s
- How to measure success?
- 2. Communication is key
Leaders need to communicate constantly with employees, customers and other stakeholders about the changes in the operating hours. Clarify what changes are happening and address any concerns each party may have.
Employees need to be reassured that they will not have any pay cut due to the reduced hours, nor lose out on any other benefits. Encourage ideas on how to improve productivity – doing more in less time.
Set an out-of-office auto-reply for customers, as a reminder. You will find some templates from www.desktime.com
Speak to external stakeholders to discuss expectations and any potential concerns. It will give you a better understanding of specific work demands, and what may or may not be feasible for them
3. Rotate the days off
Create a plan for a 4-day working week on rotation, depending on business and employee needs. One way of doing this is part of the team is off on Mondays and the others are off on Fridays. At the end of the day, everyone will have a day off during the week while ensuring business continuity.
4. Offer flexibility
Allow employees to set their own schedules, based on their workload. Leaders need to monitor and adjust accordingly. The four-day work week is a huge shift, and It is important for leaders to provide support and empathy to ensure the success of the four-day week.
5. What other strategies you can adopt?
- Don’t schedule calls or communication on the days off
- Build a culture of trust, transparency and accountability
- Reduce and shorten meetings
- Build a business contingency and risk mitigation plan
- Measure outcomes, not hours
- Use automation where possible
- Prioritize tasks
- Have regular employee feedback
- Defined output expectations
Keep track of the four-day work week results
Once implemented, you need to analyse the results to measure success and help identify and overcome ongoing challenges. We recommend assessing the results within a 3-6 months period.
Conduct group interviews which provide insight on employees’ experiences and surveys to identify the trends, what worked and what to improve. The metrics of success are:
- Productivity – output based on deadlines and goals. It makes sense to focus on sales, the average time to close deals, conversion rates etc.
- Stress level
- Employee happiness and engagement
- Overall employee satisfaction
- Process and efficiency workflows
The other metrics to look at are the level of absenteeism, and sick leaves to identify whether employees feel less burnt out. It’s also important to understand how employees are optimizing their work: Are they working faster, doing overtime, reducing meetings, and taking fewer breaks? After all, you don’t want them to cut on their breaks or rush to work.
Statistics showing the success of the 4-day work week
Written by Karishma Pattoo, Content Specialist at Proactive Talen