You are starting to hear about it more and more. Companies shifting towards a four-day working week to improve employee productivity, create a better work-life balance, and reduce stress levels. But what is a workweek? The idea of having one less day of work allows many employees and employers to accomplish other needs in life. This is one of the greatest reasons why workers are able to punch the clock, feel better with higher energy levels, and less stress which produces more productivity in the workplace.
Why The Four-Day Workweek Buzz Lately
Employers are always looking for ways to improve and grow their business and it usually starts with those on the front line which would be the employees. From an article by Ladders reported a survey involving more than 17,000 U.S. employees in 19 different industries stating 71% of them were not happy and looking for new job opportunities.
Obviously with this staggering percentage there is a real cause for concern for employers to do something that makes their employees happier and enjoy their jobs as much as possible. One of the ideas that came to light known as the four- day work week.
A New Zealand company called Perpetual Gardens did a 4 day workweek trial with their 240 employees in March and April of 2018, and found great success in higher productivity levels. These employees were paid for five days while only completing four days of work, totalling 32 hours instead of the traditional 40 hours.
The Results From a 4 Day Working Week
After the trial, researchers took a look and studied the results from the employees’ reduced time worked. The New York Times reports the employees spent more time with their families, outdoor work, exercising, and cooking. All of these activities played a major role in reducing stress while increasing energy levels. It was also reported by the supervisors that attendance was improved with time and less break time was used in a day.
This survey also revealed 78 percent of the employees had a better work-life balance, up from 54 percent the previous year, according to The Chicago Tribune. Additional reports included a drop in stress by 7 percent and a better working environment for the employees. Know the facts about stress and work productivity and see how you can help reduce stress in other ways.
Let’s recap some of the benefits from the 4 day workweek:
- 7% higher productivity at work
- Created a better work environment
- 78% improvement in work-life balance
- More time to do out of work related errands and tasks
Risks of Being Overworked
With most things, over doing it can have many risks and dangers. Sometimes more isn’t always better. Unfortunately, an article by 20 Something Finance reports 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than forty hours per week in the U.S. To give you a better idea on the actual hours worked, the U.S.
Department of Labor says the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours each day. With this being said, lets go over some risks associated with overworking.
May not be able to concentrate on your health
Think about the last time you made an appointment with your doctor. There’s a good chance that the only time you were able to get in for a visit was during a weekday, and if you are like most Americans then you probably had to work during that time.
Your health is very valuable and should be maintained with checkups and appointments as necessary. Think about how nice it would be to only have to work four days per week and have the extra weekday to attend your doctor visits and stay well.
When a person is overworking they can develop serious health issues. Lack of rest and sleep is a very common side effect of working too much. Without proper rest, the body does not have time to heal and recover itself. We are only given so much time in a day and it is hard to use some of that for sleep when we are working a lot. There are other health risks associated with working too much such as stroke, obesity, diabetes, heart problems, some cancers, mental health issues, and much more.
In an article created by InvestmentZen, it lists how overworking can cause serious health issues. Below are some of these health problems from the article previously mentioned:
- 33% increased risk of stroke
- 13% increase in heart problems
- 112% increased risk in acquiring Type 2 Diabetes
- Double the chance of suffering from depression and anxiety
Less family time
Being fortunate enough to have a family is a blessing none of us should take for granted. Being able to spend time with our families is just as important as having them around. If you are spending more time at your job then chances are you are not spending enough time with your family. Spending time with family was one of the main ways that employees used their additional day off from the study mentioned earlier in this article.
Decreased productivity does not just have to take place at work, it can take place at home as well. When people are overworked they can find themselves too tired to concentrate on tasks and duties at home and while being on the clock.
Many of us are parents and have children to take care of, but may find it difficult at times if we have been at work longer than we should be. Also, our actual work performance can suffer as well. Many people may find their brains to feel cloudy and hard to concentrate. This can be from many things including being tired, overwhelmed, stressed and simply burnt out.
Less “you” time
Another risk to overworking is not having enough time for yourself. Being able to have down time and relax to yourself is very important. This can help a person stay focused, eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed, and increase happiness and joy.
By making time for yourself, you can do things you truly enjoy that make you feel good. Happiness can slowly fade away if all you are doing is working and not living life to the fullest. Remember to take time for yourself and relax.
Should Companies Try 4 Day Workweeks
Based on the evidence that has been proven in work studies, some could argue that it is absolutely worth the shot to try having employees only work four days rather than the standard five each week.
Employers should do their homework and research before testing the waters. Let employees know of the company’s expectations and start tracking time and attendance with an employee time clock system. This can help management understand if attendance is improving and improving time cards.
Business owners should then pay close attention to the productivity levels and attitude changes from their employees. Are they happier, do they have a better attendance record, are the employees utilizing their time better at work? These are just a few questions to ask when performing the trial of a four day workweek.
Conclusion to Working Only 4 Days Per Week
At the end of the day it really boils down to the fact if a 4 day working week is appropriate for the business. Does it make economic sense and is it gaining more production from the employees to make up from the shorter week? Again, these are questions and concerns that need to be considered as well.
Also have a discussion with your employees to see what their thoughts and opinions are when it comes to a change in schedule. Some of them may be for it and others may be against it. With the use of modern technology, it has allowed businesses all over the world to benefit and succeed, including reducing the amount of time spent at work.
Changes like this can really make a business owner have questions and concerns, but how do you know if something is successful or not unless you try it?
“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” - Chinese Proverb