The reality of today’s workplaces is that employees are stressed because they not only face excess work duties, but they work long hours, which keeps them away from their homes, families and leisure for long periods of time. According to many HR and legal experts, the results of overworked employees are distraction and low productivity in the company, forcing employers to demand even more hours from their employees, among other things.
Everybody I talk to seems to think that the solution of a four-day workweek should enhance employee effectiveness and productivity, reduce stress, improve employees’ enjoyment of work, and balance their work/life. Then why don’t government policy-makers and organizations catch on to a nationally legislated four-day workweek to improve both our society and the productivity of the workforce?
This concept has been the norm in France and Germany for quite some time, and certain studies have shown that they have the highest productivity in the world. The four-day workweek is even catching on in the US with successful results in the state of Utah (see http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/277125). HRGuru provides additional insight on how a four-day workweek works based on the Utah experience.
What would a four-day workweek mean? One important point is that employers would focus on employees completing tasks, rather than simply putting in hours. There exist various formulas, but the most popular is working four 10-hour days (“4-10”). Under this formula, workers would still work 40 hours, but over a period of four days instead of five—removing a day of commuting and allowing workers to enjoy a three-day weekend.
Donna Lero, Chair in Families and Work at the University of Guelph, says an estimated three to ten percent of Canadians are now on a 4-10 schedule. Although the idea is new to many, she notes it first gained popularity in the 1970s as a way of relieving rush-hour traffic.
There are several relevant case studies employers can look at, such as the lessons Bell Canada learned from its trials with the four-day workweek. The Oil Drum provides sixteen reasons why this (four-day workweek) might be an idea whose time has come.
Tell me, are we ready to take the “Four-Day Workweek Challenge”, and make Thursday the new Friday?