Four-day working week: Is it too good to be true?

Could your business benefit from a four-day working week? Or is it just an HR fad? Read on to learn more.

BrightHR Team

Fancy giving your staff an extra day off each week? Don’t shake your head just yet…

A number of businesses have made the switch to a four-day working week and seen a boost in staff productivity.

One company in New Zealand (Perpetual Guardian), switched its 240 employees to a four-day working week and saw a 20% increase in productivity. And others are considering the same move…

So should you? Let’s find out whether a shorter working week will be a good fit for your business.  

Happy staff are productive staff

The boundaries between work and home life are not as clear as they used to be. Your staff might take work home or even reply to emails on holiday.

And while they might think that this is the norm, spending too much time on work can have a big impact on their mental health.

Studies show that 1 in 6 adults have suffered from a mental health issue at work. And 30,000 people leave a job each year due to mental health conditions.

Workplace stress can play a huge role in poor mental health. So giving your staff an extra day off each week could help to improve their work-life balance and boost their happiness.  

Not only that, but staff will be more focused and productive at work. Well, that’s according to the Institute for Labour Economics…

They found that once staff have worked 35 hours during a week, their productivity starts to dip. And that matches what other companies are saying about their four-day working week trials…

They’ve seen productivity increase by as much as 30%—showing that staff happiness (and the promise of an extra day off) can drive employees to work harder.

So are there any downsides?

A four-day working week might sound great for your staff, but it might not be so easy on your business. Especially if you’re a small business owner with a lot of competition.

For you, the prospect of closing shop one day a week probably isn’t so appealing. And just because other businesses have seen an increase in productivity, doesn’t guarantee you will see the same.

You could even switch to a four-day working week and see a decline in staff productivity. And at that point, you’ll find it harder to claw back that extra day off from your staff.

But there might be another option that’s a better fit for both you and your people…

Flexible working

If you’re daunted by the prospect of switching to a four-day working week, you could offer staff flexible working instead.

This is when you adapt your staff’s work hours to their needs. For example, letting staff start work later so they can take their kids to school, or come in early so they can hit the gym after work

Allowing your staff to have flexible start and finish times could boost their work-life balance and reduce sickness. Want to know more? Read our flexible working guide.