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As four-day workweek trial ends, most companies stick with the change

The world’s largest trial of a four-day work week ended this week – and 92% of companies that participated plan to continue with the reduced work schedule because the benefits were so clear.

The study of 61 UK-based companies and approximately 3,000 employees delivered results which are largely consistent with existing evidence from other studies, “further demonstrating the benefits of output-oriented working with shorter hours,” the study concluded.

After the trial, 56 of the 61 companies will continue with their four-day working week. Only two companies said they are “absolutely not” doing this, while other three expect to continue but have not confirmed.

The pilot program was run by the non-profit organization 4-day week worldwidethe UK 4 days a week campaign And Autonomy, a think tank. It guided the companies and their employees through a six-month test of a 32-hour, four-day work week, with no loss of pay for employees. Included a previous study of companies in the US and Irelanda total of 91 companies with approximately 3,500 employees completed shorter workweek pilot programs.

In addition, 75 companies and 1,751 employees completed surveys, leading to the latest findings.

Companies rated their overall experience an average of 8.5/10, with business productivity and business performance each scoring a 7.5/10. Remarkably, company turnover – weighted by the company size of the respondent organizations – remained largely the same during the trial period, with an average increase of 1.4%. Compared to a comparable period in previous years, organizations reported revenue increases of 35% on average, indicating healthy growth during the short-time working period.

“Some of the most comprehensive benefits of reduced work hours were found in employee well-being,” the study concluded. “Before and after data shows that 39% of employees were less stressed and 71% experienced less burnout at the end of the trial. Similarly, levels of anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems decreased, while mental and physical health both improved.

While both men and women benefit from a four-day work week, women’s experience is generally better, the study said.

“This is the case for burnout, life and job satisfaction, mental health, and reduced commute time,” says Dr. Dale Whelehan, a behavioral scientist and CEO of 4 Day Week Global. balance, with more men taking on a greater share of the household and childcare.”

The number of people who quit businesses during the study dropped significantly, falling by 57% during the trial. In addition, 15% of employees in the participating companies indicated that no amount of money would persuade them to now accept a five-day work week instead of a four-day one.

“For many, the positive effects of a four-day work week were worth more than their weight in money,” the report said.

According to a 2022 Gartner Research global survey of 3,600 employees, a 4-day work week appears to be the most popular attraction among “new and innovative talent acquisition benefits.”

In addition, 63% of candidates selected “4-day work week for the same pay” as a top five benefits that would attract them to a job (this number rises to 74% for respondents in the US), according to Gartner.

“Looking forward, organizations seeking to differentiate themselves in today’s new talent landscape will continue to adopt a people-centered work design – viewing employees as people, not just resources – and giving employees the autonomy, flexibility and freedom to integrate work into their lives as they see fit said Caitlin Duffy, director of Gartner’s HR department.

However, few organizations are testing or implementing a 4-day work week. At the end of June 2022, only 16% of organizations surveyed were considering a 4-day work week and only 5% had implemented it.

Boston College Professor Juliet Schor, the principal investigator of the 4-day workweek study, said the results were largely the same regardless of a company’s size, “showing that this is an innovation that works for many types of organizations.

“There are also some interesting differences,” Schor said in a statement. “We found that nonprofit and professional services workers had a greater average increase in time spent exercising, while construction/manufacturing workers had the greatest reductions in burnout and sleep problems.”

Other key business metrics showed signs of positive effects. In addition to slightly higher revenues and fewer dropouts, there was also a 65% reduction in the number of employees absent due to illness.

Not everyone was convinced by the findings.

Charlotte Morris, associate attorney at esphr – a self-described “new model employment law firm” – said that while there is “no doubt” about the benefits of a shorter week with full pay for employees and employee retention and recruitment, it could be a headache for some companies. She also said the six-month pilot was not long enough to determine the long-term benefits of a 32-hour work week.

For example, Morris said companies should figure out what day of the week employees don’t work, what happens to part-time workers who have already worked a short week, how entitlement to holiday pay is calculated and what contractual changes are needed. . “Companies can’t just unilaterally change an individual’s contract terms,” ​​she said.

“It’s interesting to finally see the results of a trial that has taken a long time,” Morris said via email Computer world. “Given the length of time we work, from leaving school to retirement age for most, a six-month trial is probably still not long enough to really measure the impact of a shorter work week. Therefore, the results should be taken with some caution.”

The environmental results of the study were also encouraging, with travel time for the entire job reduced by half an hour per week.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.