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Prior to the 1950s, most Americans worked 12+ hours a day, six days a week. Then, the 40-hour workweek became the norm, with workers putting in 8 hours each day, for five days a week. Now, there are those who believe we could shorten the workweek even further.
There are a number of businesses today that offer a shorter workweek during the summer months, requiring their employees to work only 4.5 days each week. Some companies are beginning to adopt this shorter workweek for the entire year, while others are giving some or all of their employees the option to work a 4-day workweek. In fact, according to CAI's latest Policies and Benefits survey, about 14% of employers offer some form of compressed schedule to employees based on position.
Clearly, there are obvious benefits to the employees who are able to cut their workweek to 4 days instead of 5 and receive the same compensation. Are there any benefits for the employer that would cause management to consider this as an offering for their employees?
Productivity Increases - It stands to reason that an employee who is well rested and happy will be more productive during the days they are at work. Also, there are fewer personal distractions while at work for employees who have that “week day” to get things done that may not be possible on a weekend when many businesses are closed.
Work-Life Balance - This is becoming more and more important to employees, especially in a family with two careers and also raising children. Having that extra day at home can be very important to the overall emotional health of the family unit. In a two-career family, where both employers are flexible, one parent can take Fridays off, while the other takes Mondays off, spending more time with their children.
Longer Retention - Turnover can be very tough on a business, especially if there are long-term projects involved. In addition to the time and money necessary to find and train a replacement, projects can lose ground due to the lack of continuity.
Higher Creativity - Successful companies are those that come up with creative ideas on a consistent basis. By effectively giving everyone a longer weekend, you are providing an extra day for them to explore the world, mingle, travel, etc., all of which serve to stimulate the mind and get the creative juices flowing.
When creating a shorter workweek, some businesses will opt to offer their employees a 4-day, 32-hour schedule, and count on the increased productivity to make up the difference of losing a day’s work. Other organizations offer the options of working a 4-day, 10 hours per day schedule in order to maintain the 40 hours per week, while still giving employees a “week day” to spend as they choose.
Companies are still being asked to work with limited resources, and many do not have the budget to afford raises or expensive perks for their employees. Adopting a 4-day workweek and experiencing the increased productivity during the shorter week, makes this an affordable option. Such a perk can be used to improve retention of your existing employees, as well as attract new talent to your organization. Certainly is something to consider if you have not already.
If your employees work a 4-day work week, share with us the pros and cons of this shorter workweek option. Have you seen an increase in productivity? Are your employees happier and commenting on their work-life balance? If you have other creative ideas regarding a workweek schedule please share them with us by commenting below!