Are 4-day workweeks a trend or will they stick around as a normal practice?
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That’s a good question and a lot of businesses are looking at their peers to find the answer. It may depend on the industry to determine whether the 4-day workweek will be viable and sustainable. In today’s difficult talent market it may be a tool businesses are using across all industries to attract applicants. They may be trying out the 4-day week to find if it’s practical for the long-term.
If employees can turn out work product and get the job done, at the same levels of productivity, in 4 days instead of 5, it might be worthwhile. If they interact with clients, it may make for more difficult scheduling, but still could be feasible. The challenge may be planning for a 4-day workweek that serves the company, the customer and the worker. It may take more of logistics, but if everyone is willing, it could work.
The larger issue may be whether or not business wants to sustain a 4-day workweek for – basically – ever. The largest corporations have found, post-pandemic, that once you offer a perk it will be difficult to take it back. Most companies scrambled to go remote when COVID first came on the scene: two years later many, most notably Apple, have been struggling to et employees back on campus. What was offered to keep people working has become something of an entitlement. It’s proving hard to get that toothpaste back into the tube.
The same may happen with the 4-day workweek. Businesses may hire at a 4-day/same pay level because of crushing talent shortages, but what happens when the market opens up? They may want to revert back to a 5-day week, but have 4-day employees who are unwilling. Companies may have to keep the 4-day week for existing employees and then find challenges hiring new staff for 5 days. They may have to shift their entire business to a 4-day week, regardless of the availability of talent. These are questions to consider and plan for very seriously before they jump on the bandwagon.
For individual businesses, If you can get the same level of service to customers and productivity in 4 days as you do 5, it might be worthwhile to make the change. For others it may be a short-term solution with long-term consequences. It’s anyone’s guess whether 4-day/same pay will change the way we do business forever, or be a trend that could be difficult to reverse.
1. Why 4-day work weeks?
As a part of the move toward more flexible work arrangements, some companies are adopting 4-day work weeks to attract and retain top talent. About 60% of Gen Z and Millennials identified flexible work arrangements as one of their top 3 needs in a job, and these groups are making up more and more of the workforce.
2. The effect of the pandemic on 4-day work weeks
During the pandemic, remote work became a reality for many organizations, whether they thought they were ready or not. They found that they were able to successfully shift to a new way of working, and may be more willing to take another leap with 4-day work weeks.
3. Questions to ask yourself
The signs point toward 4-day work weeks sticking around. You may want to start thinking about whether you have the processes in place to accommodate a 4-day work week. Here are some questions to ask yourself to gauge your readiness:
1. Are you able to schedule around a 4-day work week?
2. Do you have the appropriate number of employees to support a 4-day work week?
3. How would a 4-day work week affect total compensation?
For more thoughts on 4-day work weeks, watch the video below.
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