Are there employer advantages to a four-day work week?

Feb 03, 2022

Are there employer advantages to a four-day work week?

Anyone who’s logged on to LinkedIn lately will be well aware that 30 companies in the UK are trailing a 4-day work week. The trial lead by the same organisation behind last year’s study in New Zealand will last for six months and uses a 100:80:100 model, which means that employees get 100% of their normal pay packet, for just 80% of their usual time, in the understanding that they retain 100% of their usual productivity.

Researchers have previously claimed introducing a three-day weekend could save the Great British high street, by boosting sales to the tune of £58billion a year. This news has obviously proved popular among workers who are hoping for an improved work life balance, but from a business perspective what are the potential advantages of reducing the length of the working week?

Improved productivity

Cynics will say that the idea of a company improving their output by working less, is simply too good to be true. However, there is some data that supports this. In New Zealand Perpetual Guardian, a large financial services company, found that adopting a four-day week led to a 20% rise in productivity. Whereas Microsoft Japan found a whopping 40% jump in productivity while carrying out an experimental four-day week for a month back in 2019.

Equality

Promoting equality has become a top priority for most employers today, and evidence suggests that changing to a four-day work week could help employers achieve their equality goals.

As the World Economic Forum says “The gender pay gap starts to expand after women have children. At first, both parents’ incomes take a knock, but men’s quickly recover. Women’s never do…A big part of the reason women are paid less than men is that they often work less hours after children are born, prioritising childcare over forging forward in a full-time career.” By reducing working hours then, employers can improve gender equality in their business.

But it’s not just gender equality a four-day week may promote, it could also open employment opportunities to workers with various disabilities, health issues and care responsibilities.

Broader talent pool

Improved equality, also broadens the talent pool from which you can recruit, making you a much more desirable employer to people who for various reasons can only work four days a week.

Of course, it also gives you that edge over the competition, as even the most ardent workaholics will pick a job that offers 30 hours a week for the same pay as working 37.5.

Carbon footprint

In the wake of COP26 we’re all trying to reduce our carbon footprint, and it’s no surprise that reducing working hours can cut your carbon output. Platform London reports that moving the economy to a four-day, would reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes per year. Of course, in some industry’s there are monetary advantages also to the reduction of CO2 output.

Happier, healthier employees

While we talked about the overarching boost productivity employers who embraced the four-day week found. The indirect advantages (aside from the obvious ones!) of having happier and healthier employees cannot be understated.

A four day work week structure leads to employees taking less time off sick which means employers need to worry less about contingency plans, if staff fall ill at crucial times. The improvements to staff happiness also garners loyalty, improving staff retention.

This also in turns means reduced costs for Human Resources departments, which could potentially offset any lose of earnings cused by reduced operating hours.

Looking for more employment advice? Check out the rest of the Hunter Selection blog here.