Business professionals debate whether or not a shortened work week is a viable solution for workplace productivity. A 5-day, full-time work week can be mentally draining for your employees. Therefore, some Canadian companies are experimenting with compressed work weeks, allowing for a better work-life balance for employees.
There are many pros and cons of a 4-day work week. Whether you should adopt a shortened work week depends on several factors.
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Below, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day work week and determine if giving your employees an extra day off is valuable.
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Benefits of a 4-Day Work Week
Pro #1: 3-Day Weekend
Giving your employees a 3-day weekend can have many benefits. One of the principal advantages of a compressed schedule is that it gives your employees a chance to relax and spend more time with their families. More time at home is valuable for parents of young children.
It also gives your employees a chance to catch up on sleep and spend more time with their spouses or partners. When your employee has time for a social life, it can increase their happiness and productivity.
Another benefit of giving your employees a 3-day weekend is improving your office morale. Employees will be happier when they can take time off and relax after a long work week. It will also make them feel more valued and appreciated by their employer.
Pro #2: Increased Productivity and Motivation
Another possible benefit of a compressed work week is it gives your employees motivation to finish their work by the end of the week. Managers can gather their team and tell them to focus hard on work for four days, assuring they will have time to relax and decompress over the long weekend. Knowing that they have an extra day to recharge may make your employees work harder during the week.
Pro #3: Save Money
By reducing the number of days spent on the job, a 4-day work week can save your business money. A shortened week reduces your need for office space and helps you save on labour expenses.
You can also expect to save money on office supplies when you have a compressed work schedule. Your employees will use equipment, such as printers and copiers, less often, resulting in a longer lifespan for your office equipment.
According to LAC Group, employers spend an average of $200/year per employee for office supplies for a 100-person company. Therefore, if a firm reduces its office supply costs by 20%, it can save up to $4,000 a year.
Also, you can conserve a lot of money on energy and electricity expenses. By not using your office on a Monday or Friday, you can cut your overhead costs by a sizable percentage. This is one of the most valuable points on this list of pros and cons of a 4-day work week.
Pro #4: Attract Better Recruits
ZipRecruiter, Canada’s leading online job board, claims that 4-day work week job postings are increasing each year. More employers turn to compressed work weeks to attract better recruits to their vacant job openings.
COVID-related hiring difficulties may drive this trend up. As the battle for talent intensifies, job candidates want the best perks possible. An abbreviated work week may be the best way to catch their eye.
An extra day off will help your job listing call the attention of qualified recruits looking for more workplace flexibility. It is one of the best perks you can offer new employees.
Pro #5: Reduce Burnout
Burnout is a common problem for employees. It comes in many forms, but the most prevalent are emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation, and reduced work performance.
When an employee experiences burnout, they may feel tired, stressed, and moody. They may also have a reduced interest in their work and a decreased ability to focus on the task at hand. Employees may make careless mistakes or exhibit other signs of poor performance when fatigued.
The effects of burnout can be critical. It can lead to absenteeism, turnover, or even job loss.
Early studies from companies such as Perpetual Guardian show that a compressed work week leads to happier employees due to their ability to recharge over the long weekend. A 3-day weekend keeps your employees sharp, increasing workplace productivity.
Disadvantages of a 4-Day Work Week
Con #1: Overworking
Some opponents to the 4-day work week claim that a 10-hour work day is unsustainable. You may see many damaging effects on your business if you adopt a compressed work week.
Working too much can make your employees anxious and depressed, which affects their mental and physical health. A 10-hour work day may not give your employees enough time to recover from stress at night before going back to work the next day. Therefore, they are more likely to experience fatigue and other symptoms of depression when they return to the office.
Con #2: Extra Payroll Expenses
The employees who have a shortened schedule must accomplish as much as those working a Monday-Friday schedule. If your business requires hourly employees who work a compressed schedule to come into the office on an off day, you may be liable for overtime pay.
Some provinces require overtime pay when an employee works more than eight hours per day. If you compress non-exempt employees’ schedules to 10-hour work days, you could be liable to pay them eight overtime hours each week, resulting in considerable overtime costs. Therefore, you must be careful about scheduling, ensuring that you do not overspend on overtime costs.
Con #3: It Does Not Work for All Employees
Many employees ask their employers to consider compressed workdays or shortened work weeks. Managers must consider all the pros and cons of a 4-day work week before implementing the policy.
Some areas of your organization may benefit from a 4-day work week, while others may not. Giving a compressed schedule to some employees may frustrate other employees who work a 5-day week. Doing so may cause conflict and office hostility.
We recommend considering whether you can apply your compressed schedule policy to all areas of your organization before you implement it. Begin with a trial period to see if workers, clients, and the business benefit from a 4-day work week before instituting it company-wide.
Con #4: Scheduling Conflicts
Internal scheduling may also disrupt client service. For example, you may need to call an emergency meeting with your team on a Friday. If you have employees who do not work on Fridays, scheduling impromptu meetings can be problematic.
However, with advanced communication technology such as Zoom, most companies can avoid scheduling conflicts. Determine if your company requires frequent in-person meetings before instituting a shortened work week.
Also, many company executives show concern that there is not enough coverage for clients and employees with a compressed schedule. This issue can be challenging for managers to resolve. For many businesses, half of the shortened week employees take off Mondays, while the remaining workers take Fridays off, creating client service dilemmas.
You must communicate with your team to ensure that your customer service does not suffer if you have a compressed work schedule. Clients always must come first.
Con #5: Decreased Productivity
You may not achieve your desired results when implementing a shortened work week. Some companies see productivity grow, but you may get different results. Your performance relies on the level of dedication and maturity of your team.
Lean on your experienced employees to push your team to improve its efficiency. If your productivity worsens with a compressed schedule, consider moving back to a 5-day work week.
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After debating the pros and cons of a 4-day work week, managers must decide on the best schedule for their company. Even if you do not compress your work week, we recommend making mental health support a priority in your office. Give your employees an extra break during the day or plan fun outings to motivate and inspire your employees.