We asked a business coach and host of the Boss Better Now podcast why this step could be so revolutionary.
Joe Mull teaches leaders and business owners how to be better bosses and is the author of three books. His latest is Employalty: How to Ignite Commitment and Keep Top Talent in the New Age of Work. We asked him to explain his working…
For one thing, organizations trialing four-day work weeks quickly figure out that they must work more efficiently. There’s a kind of trimming of the fat that cuts unnecessary meetings and travel, for example. Also, the shorter work week forces leaders to get clearer about how they’ll measure performance and productivity. So while employees are working a few hours less, they’re working smarter and with greater focus. It also appears that, in general, when employees enjoy a higher quality of life and less stress at work as a result of a schedule that’s a better fit to their lives, their emotional and psychological commitment – and therefore their discretionary effort – increases.
There are several factors that determine whether someone is attracted to a job and desires to stay in it. Among them is what I call in the book the ‘Ideal Job’ factor. When a person’s job fits into their life in the most ideal way – especially with regard to their compensation, workload, and flexibility – we consistently see higher rates of retention and less turnover. There’s a recalibration taking place for a lot of workers around how work fits into their lives. After years of burnout and overwork – much of which was the result of ‘right-sizing’ where employers foisted the work of two or three people onto individuals – we are trending in the other direction. Organizations that want to find and keep devoted employees recognize they must reimagine work in ways that don’t negatively impact quality of life for those they hire. Four-day work weeks clearly fit the bill in this area.
The short answer is because workers in these environments have been burned out and overworked too, while trying to meet the complex challenges and demands of life outside of work. In an era where there are more jobs than there are people to fill them in nearly every industry category, companies looking to win the war for talent have had to innovate. It makes sense that a four-day work week, which continues to show efficacy in trials, would begin seeing adoption across workplaces.
The demands we carry outside of work are complex. Many adults are now or soon will be caregivers to elderly parents. There’s a childcare crisis in the US as too many households lack the funds or trusted caregivers to cover time with kids while they work. For some, the costs related to commuting are significant. Giving people 1/5th of their work time back to offset these outside-of-work challenges can be significant. Yet as more and more employers seek out and create innovative ways to attract and keep talent, it’s not out of bounds to suggest that as more and more workplaces adopt a shorter work week, the concept itself could evolve from being a novelty to a standard, ultimately forcing employers to adopt the practice in order to compete for talent at all. We’re not there yet, but we’re in the early stages of trending in that direction.