Many companies are switching their work models to 4-day work weeks. While, at first glance, it might seem that this only brings positive implications, in reality, not all companies can adjust to it.
Whether you work for a big corporation or a small startup, there’s no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the workforce. With so many touting that their employees are “Quiet Quitting” or submitting to “The Great Resignation,” it’s become clear that many workers are clamoring for fewer working hours and a more sustainable work-to-play ratio. Some employers are responding with “Quiet Firing,” a sort of indirect way of trapping an employee into an uninspiring or high-stress position with little reward until they feel forced to look for other job options.
Whether you are an employer or work a career as part of a tech team, these changes in the marketplace have made for instability, at the very least. With high turnover rates—particularly in the tech industry—as companies struggle to find the new normal, many businesses are feeling the burn when it comes to hiring quality candidates for the long haul without wasting valuable time, money, training resources, etc. In this article, we will take a look at well-known tech companies that have made the switch to a 4-day work week and the pros, cons, and implications of this moving forward.
The Post-Covid Era of the 4-Day Work Week
The traditional American work week of 40 hours on the clock, five days a week has been the norm since 1926 when Henry Ford decreed that it was the most effective amount of work hours in terms of efficiency. Since, it has inspired songs like Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” about the hustle of corporate America and the journey of climbing the ladder. Later, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which opted for a 30-hour work week, failed to pass legislation—though there is not a set law dictating what qualifies as “part-time” versus “full-time.” This is often left up to the discretion of the employer.
While the optimal nature of the 40-hour workweek might have been true in a bygone American workforce, today more and more employees are experiencing burnout. This is characterized by a decrease in energy and productivity, and an increase in negative feelings about workplace undertakings. The Covid-19 pandemic caused emotional stress for many American families, causing the amount of burnout to increase significantly, with about 79% of respondents reporting feelings of burnout after the pandemic (via The American Psychological Association).
In the face of a decreased desire to put in hours at work and to find other ways of promoting meaning and value in life, some employers have cautiously started implementing a 4-day work week—and those that do not get on board with this trend are nearly 33% more likely to have young employees between the ages of 22 and 35 quit in pursuit of better working conditions. In fact, out of 1,000 participants, over 95% said they would like to see a 4-day, rather than a 5-day, work week, according to PeopleHum.
Pros of the 4-Day Workweek
It’s hard to argue with statistics gathered from respondents who have no incentive to lie about their desires for better work/life balance. In addition to hanging on to employees longer and therefore reducing turnover, there are a few other significant benefits of the 4-day work week. These include:
- Fewer resources and less time spent on interviewing and training new employees
While at first, it can seem like a great opportunity to add talent to your tech team, many employers find the process of interviewing, reviewing, and training newly onboarded employees to be time-consuming, financially inefficient and generally set them back in terms of meeting deadlines for important projects. Reducing the number of working hours is a likely solution to decreasing burnout, boosting morale, and generally retaining high-quality or high-potential employees on a longer-term scale.
- Happy employees are more productive employees
It might sound crazy, but science can back it up: happy employees are nearly roughly 12% more productive than unhappy ones, according to a recent study by the University of Warwick—and they are much less likely to spread negative energy or engage in toxic behavior than disgruntled employees. Companies like Google have even seen productivity rise by as much as 37% after improving working conditions and time off for their employees, producing a creative, productive, and progressive work environment.
- Boost your reputation as a desirable working environment
Want to groom the best tech team possible? If you make your work culture more palatable with better opportunities for resting and resetting, it won’t only be easier to increase retention but also hiring, as your employer brands become stronger. By partnering and outsourcing from KWAN you ensure that your team gets all the support and coaching they need to be happy and productive. This can also have positive implications for your customers, in every way from better customer-employee relations to increased brand loyalty.
Cons of the 4-Day Workweek
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses with the 4-day work week. To compensate for the day off, some companies have to resort to other measures to keep up with regular demand and payroll. Some downsides to adopting the 4-day work week include:
- Employees may still end up working 40 hours a week
Unfortunately, some companies are finding that they are not able to have their cake and eat it too—meaning, that by adopting their 4-day work week, they find they must increase working hours to 10 per shift. Not only does this prove ineffectual in combating burnout if workers are still spending the same amount of time working each week, but it can also cost the company something even more acute than employee morale: overtime. This is the leading reason why a 4-day work week is generally most successful when companies approach implementing it in a way that uniquely makes sense for their business. Some are even able to get away with keeping a 30-hour work week, according to Business News Daily.
- Improved employee morale may dissolve after a honeymoon period
Humans tend to habituate to their atmosphere—for better or for worse. While decreasing work days and allowing for three days off in a row may inspire the “weekend warriors” of your tech team, for others, this initial “high” may be short-lived—and the positive intentions behind adopting this new schedule are lost in the transition.
What could also be worth checking? What company benefits tech employees really value.
- Days might require more out of employees, with more packed into a shift
Even if a company is still able to inspire its tech talent to provide the same amount of efficiency and work output even with reduced working hours (as in the 30-hour workweek model), this might require even more intensive time management skills. Stacking meetings, phone calls, and even more projects into a day can increase stress and burnout—the very conditions your company is hoping to avoid by switching to four days a week! If you can maintain productivity without increasing the intensity of your working days for the average employee, you are likely on a sustainable track.
Does the 4-Day Work Week Impact Productivity?
There are yet conflicting results about the efficacy of a 4-day work week, including whether or not a long weekend is worth the tradeoff for companies, both financially and in terms of enhancing workplace culture. While some big tech teams like Google have been able to pull off positive results with their improved working conditions and reduced working hours, not every company is as successful—nor as willing to stick out the inevitably challenging transition.
However, for those who are willing to take the chance on reducing their work week to four days rather than five, they may see benefits such as an additional two hours of productivity out of employees that would otherwise be wasted during a normal workday. Additionally, offering remote or alternative work opportunities can not only boost cultural morale, but can even decrease expenses associated with utilities, transportation, and supplies. In a post-Covid world, companies that have learned to lean into technological solutions like Zoom meetings or online productivity or flow platforms and the inherent increased quality of life they offer are more likely to succeed in an evolving workforce than those that don’t.
Here’s an article that gives you 6 reasons why your team’s performance while working remotely is better than ever.
Onboarding New Tech Talent in a Transitioning Market
Whatever your feelings on the 4-day work week, many progressive companies are finding that not responding to the changing workplace dynamic with curiosity and dedication to forward movement is not an option. For many, this involves attracting more tech talent to their company—whether the talent is local or remote— through recruitment and outsourcing patterns such as KWAN. If you are focused on expanding your company in the right direction and don’t have time to sift through resume after resume, Kwan can expedite your hiring process so you can get back to doing what you love: expanding your business.
Want to know what Kwan can do for your tech team? Get in touch and let’s address the needs of your business together!