Could a 4-day working week be the path to better productivity?
Karen Lloyd employer, HR
A recent report by the TUC into how changes to the current and future workplace can best benefit workers has cited a four-day working week as the most popular idea as voted by it’s members. Perhaps unsurprising (who doesn’t like the idea of more downtime?) but, the effects of four-day week and reduced working time in reality are much more complicated.
It’s a topic of interest globally. A trial was conducted in New Zealand by trustee company Perpetual Guardian during Spring 2018 and analysed by academics at the Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland. The results were encouraging: work remained up to standard while teamwork and work engagement increased, and stress decreased. However, it also raised concerns about increased stress for certain employees when trying to cope with busy periods, and what it didn’t show was an actual increase in productivity or work quality.
Other issues include businesses finding it difficult to deal with others who work a “standard” working week, as well as the deep-seated cultural roots of working 5 days a week that have been in place for centuries.
However, employers are clearly concerned with employee health and well-being; last year the Daily Telegraph reported that “six out of ten UK bosses believe that cutting employees’ days from eight to six hours “could be beneficial for business”.
Marketers especially consider flexible working very important in both the B2B and B2C arenas. Yet, only 38.3% of them are offered the choice in their current role.
Whilst we don’t need to necessarily consider a drastic solution of dropping an entire working day, there are other options open to employers that can benefit both parties as employees feel more valued with a better work life balance, whereas employers see improved employee morale and ultimately better employee retention.
Flexible start / finish times. A common issue for working parents juggling full time jobs and managing the school run. An early or late start can make an enormous difference to an employee whilst the employer still gets the benefit of a full working week.
Compressing daily hours. Some companies do offer the option to work full time hours compressed into four days. Whilst this is a demanding option for employees and must be considered carefully, it can help to juggle personal obligations whilst still delivering a full time option.
Mobile working. With today’s technology there is nothing to prevent employees working remotely. A day or two at home a week can actually help employees to be more productive whilst managing their own personal obligations (note that combining home working with childcare is not what we are suggesting here!).
Being able to offer options to potential candidates will present you as an employer who values their employees and wants to actively work with them to achieve the best work life balance. It is important to be able to sell these benefits to potential marketing candidates so ensure that you brief your consultancy fully on the options so that this can form part of their candidate presentation.