In the last 2 years, the concept of a four-day working week has become increasingly popular. In 2022, 61 employers in various industries in the UK took part in a six-month trial, implementing a four-day working week in order to test the costs and benefits of the scheme.
In December 2022, the trial finished, and the report was released, which highlighted “extensive benefits” for employees and employers alike. The organisation which created this scheme, 4 Day Week Global, cited that this extra day off gave employees a chance to rest and recuperate, which, in turn, increased productivity levels in the 4 days that they work. Furthermore, many employers stated that absenteeism and sickness leave has decreased significantly, which decreases the cost burden of recruitment and training costs.
However, many employers are still wary of this. Many employers state that they need to see solid and significant productivity gains before they can think about implementing this new concept into their business. This is especially important in the UK where productivity growth has stagnated causing them to fall behind other rich nations in the amount of value created per worker. While the majority of the companies which took part in the scheme stated that they were happy with performance outcomes, it is important to note that only 23 provided financial data to back up these claims and this data showed that revenue had mostly stayed the same, not increased. In addition, the four-day working week would only work for some business areas, which poses a problem for employers who cover a variety of business areas.
Nevertheless, it is notable that 56 out of the 61 companies who took part in the trial have stated that they would continue with the four-day week, while 18 of these 56 have made the policy a permanent change.