The 4-day workweek debate has been gaining a lot of airtime recently, with a number of Companies participating in trials around Australia.

It’s a hot topic as businesses attempt to create that elusive “work-life” balance that younger generations are craving post-COVID burnout.

So, what is the 4-day work week?

It’s a concept commonly referred to as the 100:80:100 model.

Effectively employees get 100 per cent of their pay for working 80 per cent of their previous hours in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100-per-cent productivity.

YES, you read right, and whilst most employees would jump at the chance to work 4 days a week instead of 5, the real question would be, is this actually possible, and could this practically work for your business?

Well, according to a recent study conducted by Associate Professor John Hopkins from Swinburne University of Technology, he had never seen such positive results in more than a decade of researching flexible work arrangements.

According to a recent article in the ABC news:

  • There were ten Australian businesses that trialled the four-day work week that took part in the study
  • All of the companies have continued with a four-day week, with four companies adopting the change permanently and the other six extending the trial
  • Despite reduced working hours, 70 per cent experienced an increase in productivity, while the other 30 per cent said productivity remained the same

So, as we navigate the focus on prioritising flexible work arrangements as a very real and attractive employee benefit, there is no better time to consider the pros and cons of implementing this in your own business.

So, what are the Pros?

Greater work-life balance – It goes without saying that employees who work 4 days instead of 5 have more free time to rest, spend with their families and friends, and get their life admin out of the way. Winning!

Productivity and Engagement– Employers who have trialled or adopted a 4-day work week have not seen any reduction in productivity, and many have seen employees become more engaged, focused, and efficient during their working hours.

Attracting top talent and keeping them – Offering the 4-day workweek model can make workplaces more attractive to potential employees and give them an advantage over their competitors vying for the same candidates in an often very competitive recruitment market!

Improved wellbeingA shorter work week can lead to physical and mental health benefits. Reduced stress and more time for exercise and self-care can contribute to a healthier workforce, and in turn, reduce your absenteeism due to sick leave or even prevent work cover claims.

Now here are the potential Cons…

Intensified workloadsCondensing workloads into 4 days (even potentially longer days) can put additional pressure on your employees and have an impact on their stress levels, and the quality of their output.

Additional costs Adopting a 4-day week is likely to come with additional costs, from adjusting schedules to reorganising workflow, and potentially hiring new employees to compensate for the reduced hours could incur additional costs.

Managing effectively – If employees’ days off differ, it can be challenging to set up team meetings or difficult to manage projects.  Employees may also feel pressured to join meetings on their days off, so they don’t miss anything important.

Managing performance issues – Businesses will need to be prepared to deal with employees who are not meeting their productivity targets and how to performance manage fairly and lawfully.

It doesn’t suit all your employees – some businesses need to operate 24/7 or have critical roles that cannot transition to a 4-day work week.  Choosing to adopt a shorter week for some, and not others, could create a sense of inequality in your workplace and have a negative impact on morale and productivity.

The wrap up…

It is blatantly obvious that no two businesses are the same, so what works for some, may not work for others! There are some really attractive benefits of adopting this approach in your business, so we are a YAH for the 4-day work week. However, before making any decision to change how your business operates, take the time to look and it from all angles, and make sure you are doing what works not only for your people but your business too. Do not lock yourself in, you should do a trial first and ensure you are not creating a rod for your own back.

Finally, if you are thinking about it, we would highly recommend that you do some kind of consultation with your employees before implementing this so they feel involved in the decision and are able to give you feedback on how it could practically work.

To discuss how to trial or implement such a change in your workplace, reach out to HR Gurus today!

Written by Shelley Martin

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