Is a Four-Day Work Week Right for Your Company?

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Do you remember what you thought at the end of Memorial Day weekend? “Boy, I wish every weekend was three days long.” Guess what, Executive? Your employees were having the same thoughts. Are four-day work weeks, ten hours a day feasible? Maybe it is time to give the idea some serious consideration. Money Examiners breaks the issue into three parts.

Seize the Good:
It’s easy to see the positives in your plan. Employees will sing praises to the sudden onset of three-day weekends. They will know that it is, in real-time, a raise. Fewer trips to work for the same paycheck makes it so.

If handled properly, it can be an avenue to a greater work-life balance. More about this, though, in a moment.

Many companies switching to a four-day work week tell us that the quality of candidates improves. It won’t take long for word of your decision to translate into words like “innovative, “out-of-the-box,” and even “compassionate.”

The dreaded rush-hour commute is less of an issue when the employer adopts a 4/10 schedule. (Make sure the extra two hours are one early/one late. That maximizes the commute time benefit.)

Avoid the Bad:

Are there downsides? Of course, there are. Positions that require a lot of physical activity may take a greater toll. You may find that the folks loading and unloading the trucks can’t do it for ten hours a day.

Scheduling can become a challenge. Families accustomed to having dinner together will need to adjust. Taking the kids to school in the morning may be eliminated. Small things? Perhaps to many, but important things to some families.

On a related note, employees with children may experience child-care issues. The day-care manager that is so glad to greet your child at seven in the morning may balk at not saying goodbye after eight at night.

We mentioned work/life balance. Be careful here, because, well, it isn’t. The weight of work is shifting, but the load is still the same.

Shun the Ugly: Give your employees plenty of warning before implementing a change this profound. Then, try it at first for 3-6 months. After the trial period, have an open round-table discussion on whether the new work week is a net good thing. At that point, you can choose to adopt the new schedule, go back to the old one, or make adjustments and take the four-day work week for another spin. But, we said round-table for a reason. The employees need to feel that their employers hear their opinions. Otherwise, your grand idea turns into a surly workforce, at best. Help Wanted at worst.

A compressed week is a no-brainer right thing for some companies. “This is the best! Why didn’t we do it a long time ago?” Happy workers/happy workplace. That’s how it worked out at Perpetual Guardian.

Other companies find the change too daunting and return to the way things were. Even those outfits, though, give the boss or bosses kudos for trying a four-day work week if they have followed our advice about how to proceed. That makes it a win/win for you. Good luck!