by Izzy Galicia, President and CEO of Incito Consulting Group
As businesses across the United States continue to navigate the post-pandemic world, many are exploring new ways of working to improve productivity, employee well-being, and satisfaction. One idea that has gained traction in recent years is the four-day workweek. While some companies have already implemented it with positive results, others are still on the fence about making the switch.
What are the benefits?
First and foremost, a four-day workweek can significantly improve employee well-being and work-life balance. With an extra day off, employees have more time to pursue personal interests, spend time with family and friends, or simply rest and recharge. This can lead to reduced stress, increased job satisfaction, and lower rates of burnout and turnover.
Additionally, a shorter workweek can boost productivity and creativity. With fewer hours in the office, employees may feel more focused and motivated to complete their tasks efficiently, which can lead to higher quality work and more innovative ideas.
From a business perspective, a four-day workweek can also help attract and retain top talent. In a competitive job market, offering a more flexible schedule can be a powerful recruitment tool. Furthermore, happier and more engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond for their company, leading to increased profitability and growth.
What’s the downside?
Of course, there are potential drawbacks to implementing a four-day workweek, though these drawbacks are mostly associated with managers and leaders than employees. For example, employers may be concerned about salaries if workers are working fewer days. But if employees are completing their tasks and reaching their benchmarks, this concern should be a non-issue.
Another potential drawback to the four-day workweek could come from employers who don’t understand how to prioritize and then delegate tasks, which places unnecessary strains on their employees. Once employers understand the overarching objective (improve the bottom line), then every decision needs to be made to further that objective.
This, however, means increasing employee retention. Once the objective is clear, setting benchmarks is easy and can then be provided to employees to make sure they understand what needs to get done.
How will it impact production?
The impact of a four-day workweek on production will depend on a variety of factors, such as the industry, the nature of the work, and the company culture. Nevertheless, studies have shown that a shorter workweek can actually lead to increased productivity.
For example, in a study conducted by Microsoft Japan, a four-day workweek led to a 40% increase in productivity. Employees reported feeling more focused and motivated during their shorter workweek, leading to higher quality work and fewer distractions. Similarly, another study from the Society for Human Resource Management found that companies that offered a compressed workweek saw an average productivity increase of 20%.
Of course, it’s important to note that these results may not be universal. Every company will need to evaluate whether a four-day workweek is feasible and effective for their specific situation.
Will salaries be impacted?
The impact of the four-day workweek on salaries will depend on the company and industry. Some companies may choose to maintain salaries while reducing work hours, while others may choose to adjust salaries accordingly. Additionally, some industries may see a shift towards performance-based pay, where employees are compensated based on their output rather than the number of hours worked.
Ultimately, the impact on salaries will depend on the company’s goals and priorities. If the company sees the four-day workweek as a way to increase employee satisfaction and retention, it may choose to maintain salaries while reducing work hours. However, if the company sees the four-day workweek as a way to increase productivity and output, it may choose to adjust salaries accordingly.
What is interesting is that the four-day workweek isn’t viewed as the “next big thing” in manufacturing. Many manufacturing companies were already implementing four-day workweeks before the pandemic as part of a strategy to deploy an overall lean business enterprise. In fact, analysis has shown that hiring efforts have improved exponentially when designing a flexible work environment that meets the needs of today’s innovative, creative, and inspired workforce. As such, remote work, hybrid work, the right to disconnect, unlimited paid time off, and now, modified 4-day workweeks are here to stay.
Izzy Galicia, President and CEO of Incito Consulting Group, has 25 years of expertise in driving Lean and Six Sigma enterprise transformation for a wide range of Fortune 100 and 500 businesses and industries across the globe.