Last year, the campaign group ‘4 Day Week Global’ organised a four-day working week trial involving 61 companies and 2,900 employees. The six-month trial was based on the 100:80:100 model, in which employers pay their employees full pay despite only working 80% of their normal working week. In exchange, the employees look to deliver 100% productivity (i.e. continue to produce what they had previously been doing, but in four days rather than five).
The results are now in……https://autonomy.work/portfolio/uk4dwpilotresults/
In summary, out of the 61 companies that took part, 56 have extended the four-day week, including 18 who have made the change permanent. Those companies were satisfied with productivity and business performance, and revenue increased on average. Absenteeism fell by 65% on average, and there was a 57% reduction in staff departures (compared to the same period the year before).
Of the 2,900 employee that took part, 39% considered they were less stressed, 40% were sleeping better and 54% found it easier to balance work and home responsibilities.
Would you consider making this change?
A survey by the CIPD last year found that a third of businesses expect the four-day week to be a reality in the next ten years.
Please consider talking to us for advice if you are considering implementing a four-day working week. In the meantime, here are some top tips:
- There is no one size fits all approach. You need to consider whether a four-day week would fit with your culture and business requirements.
- Planning. Part of the reason that the recent trial was such a success was that the trial involved a significant amount of preparation, with workshops, coaching, mentoring and peer support. Staff should be involved in the planning stage as their engagement will be crucial to making it a success.
- The devil is in the detail. A four-day working week sounds straightforward, but there are a lot of options to consider. For example, how will you allocate the day off? Will you give all employees the same day? Is there flexibility to change a day off? How will you maintain client service or machinery operation?
- Consultation. Although you might automatically assume that employees would embrace the new hours, a reduction in hours is still a change of contract, which employees would need to agree to in advance. Advice should always be taken when making changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment.
- Always trial it. Ensure you trial any changes and reserve the right to revert to a five-day week if the trial does not prove to be successful. It will need to be clearly communicated to employees that any variations to contracts are temporary or have been made on a trial basis.
- Don’t forget existing flexible working arrangements. Will part time employees also see a reduction in hours? What about employees who have already accepted a salary reduction to work a four-day week…will they get a pay increase?
- Measuring success. How will you do this? Consider employee surveys or tracking performance/productivity. What about measuring customer or client satisfaction?
The success of this small trial is certainly food for thought as a potential way for employers to manage energy costs, retain and attract key talent, and it may also be beneficial from a wellbeing perspective. We have experience of assisting employers implement a four-day week and as such if you would like to explore this further, please contact the Employment Team.
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.