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Executive Search

Effect of the four-day workweek on the corporate gameplan

By July 19, 2023July 25th, 2023No Comments

There’s a misnomer in business circles that executive search firms simply headhunt C-Suite candidates on a retainer basis, without any thought to their future well being and productivity.

 

The truth is, we’re always keen to negotiate the best possible working conditions for the senior individuals whom we place. So, here’s a look at what the four-day workweek may be able to offer both our candidates, and their future employers. By Jeremy Bossenger, director at BossJansen Executive Search.

UK-based company Autonomy, an independent research organisation that creates data-driven tools and research for sustainable economic planning, recently carried out a Four-Day Workweek pilot. In its executive summary, only a three-page read for with limited time, the authors shared details of the pilot’s “resounding success”.  Taking place in the UK from June to December last year (2002), comprising 61 organisations of varying sizes, across numerous sectors, and involving as many as 2 900 employees – pay was kept at 100 percent but working time was reduced to 80 percent of the norm, with models ranging from Fridays off, to staggered staffing structures over the course of each week.

EMPHATIC STUDY RESULTS

When the data was analysed at the study’s conclusions, the pilot’s success was found to be highly notable. Just a few of the arising insights from participating firms include:

• 56 of the 61 companies saying they would continue with the four-day week, and 18 of these confirming that the change would be permament;

• 39 percent of employees reporting lower stress levels, and 71 percent believing the four-day workweek would combat their potential for developing burnout;

• 54 percent revealing their work-life balance had become more satisfactory, especially when it came to relationships, social life, and household responsibilities;

• mental and physical health being significantly improved, with decreased levels of anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disorders;

• company revenue rising by 35 percent and staff retention increasing by a whopping 57 percent, on average – when compared to a similar period the previous year;

and

• 15 percent of employees admitting that “no amount of money” would cause them to return to a five-day schedule after the trial had concluded.

Canadian leadership strategist and author Dan Pontefract has since taken the concept a step further, by proposing the combination of a four-day workweek with the flexibility of a remote staffing model, i.e. two days in the office, two days working remotely/from home, and a day off for rest. His stance is that this model could well provide the best of both worlds in terms of work-life balance and keeping organisational culture strong.

REAPING THE BENEFITS

Six resultant benefits that brought a grin to Pontefract’s face, and those of many other thought leaders in the space, are the following:

• enhanced productivity due to changing things up;

• optimal engagement during times in the office;

• a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent;

• the ability for four-day workweek employees to flourish not only professionally, but also personally;

• cost savings for organisations, that now need smaller head office spaces, for example;

and

• reduced greenhouse gases from less commuting, as companies strive to meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

ANY DRAWBACKS?

The studies and articles on this topic, such as those mentioned above, are offering up a plethora of positives. A holistically healthy staff contingent. A nod to work-life balance each and every day, together with sufficient face-to-face colleague contact when it is needed for inspiration. A reduced workweek that leaves little time for procrastination, but plenty of downtime to look forward to (a three-day weekend, anyone?). Making big business more people-centric than ever before.

No senior staff member would take up the offer of 100 percent pay, 80 percent time (requiring 100 percent output, of course) – only to be found lacking. The horror of moving back to a firm that requires all hands on deck 24/7, overtime, and then some?

The drawbacks seem miniscule. As in any high-demand structure, those unable to take the heat, or any chancers, will be unlikely to last – but those dynamic individuals who can put their heads down and achieve more in less time than normal, could see themselves enjoying the win-win of the best and most rewarding lifestyle conceivable.

More research on this concept goes highly recommended.

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