Four-Day Work Week Boosts Employee Satisfaction, Study Reveals


Imagine, if you will, the prospect of your employer shifting gears towards a four-day work week instead of the conventional five. Does it sound like a breath of fresh air or an alarming burden of increased workload compressed into four days?

Recent studies on the four-day work week model reveal more employees relishing a greater work-life balance and heightened productivity. However, the scenario is not devoid of potential downsides – including potentially longer work days and hurdles in team coordination.

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Diving deeper into the matter, it’s pertinent to understand the evolution of the work week. Traditionally, in Canada, employees work five eight-hour days, amounting to 40 hours per week, in accordance with federal and provincial labour standards. The concept of ‘overtime’, for employees working more than these stipulated hours, is legally acknowledged with higher pay rates. Notably, the threshold for overtime pay isn’t the same nationwide, showing variations across different provinces.

Contrary to the present norm, six-day work weeks were the standard in North America until 1926. With the adoption of a five-day work week by Ford Motor Company, the conventions of the industry broke. Edsel Ford, the company president, aspired to improve home lives of its employees, with a vision to augment productivity and retention. As Ford set the precedent, other manufacturers gradually started following suit.

A hundred years into the future, a research-based non-profit organization, 4 Day Week Global, is exploring the potential advantages of a four-day work week. The launch of their global trial in 2022, including pilot programs worldwide, represents the most substantial study of its kind to date.

Surprisingly, the study unearthed that most participants were able to accomplish the same amount of work in a 32-hour week as they would in a 40-hour week, maintaining the same remuneration and benefits. Notably, Self-rated mental and physical health, work-life balance, life and job satisfaction scores saw a noteworthy improvement over the 12-month period of the study. The study also recorded a marginal reduction in burnout levels.

Consider the implications of an extra day off – time spent with family, pursuing hobbies, or just winding down and taking care of physical and mental well-being. An overwhelming 74% of the study’s participants affirmed greater satisfaction working four days, with a marked reduction in work-to-family and work-to-life conflict. What’s more, a rise in productivity was mirrored in the self-reported data of participating employees.

Potential benefits for businesses adopting this model aren’t negligible either, thanks to a 15.79% decrease in payroll costs due to employees working five fewer hours per week while producing similar results.

However, the four-day work week isn’t an ideal fit for every business. Employees may have to grapple with longer work hours to meet productivity expectations. Teams could face coordination difficulties, especially in 24/7 operational enterprises or industries with boots-on-the-ground requirements, such as nursing, which are ill-suited for such a model. Plus, the positive short-term results of this study may not necessarily sustain in the long run.

Despite the challenges, the trials led by 4 Day Week Global show promise. Further research may yet reveal whether any initial cons could be outweighed by longer-term benefits – potentially heralding a new norm in working. Taking into account personal preferences and industry specifics, the feasibility varies. However, working for industries amenable to a four-day work week may offer an interesting paradigm to explore. Allowing for personal experiences could help inform whether this could be a one-size-fits-all solution or just another milestone in the ever-evolving work-life balance narrative.