Maximizing employee well-being with a 4-day work week

The judgment has come. A 4-day work week improves workers’ lives without undermining company goals, at least according to a new study. 

In experiments by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Boston College in Great Britain, it was found that a 4-day work week improved  burnout and stress among workers and reduced  sick and personal days. 

 “We are really encouraged by the results, which showed how many  companies have turned Thursday’s dream into a realistic policy with many benefits,” says Dr. David Frayne, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge.

Workers in various industries reported reductions in anxiety, fatigue and poor sleep, and improved physical health. 71 percent of workers reported feeling less exhausted and 39 percent less stressed compared to the start of the 4-day work week experiment. Overall, sick and personal days were reduced by 65%. 

The results reproduce previous tests that gave positive results in other countries. 

Day Week Global, a non-profit organization that facilitated the experiment, produced similar results in a fall 2022 trial  in the United States and Ireland. Employers reported better job performance and employees reported less burnout and stress. 

 “Workers reported significant reductions in stress,” Niamh Bridson Hubbard, a researcher and doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release. “Many described feeling weak or breathing easier at home. One person told us how their ‘Sunday dread’ disappeared.” 

 A comprehensive UK study of almost 3,000 workers committed to a 20%  reduction in weekly working hours between June and December  2022. Sixty-one UK companies  participated in reducing working hours  in various ways (not all were able to do this). free on Friday). However, the study’s requirement was that the reduced working hours had to be “substantial” while workers retained their normal wages. 

 The researchers also looked at how shortening the working week affected people’s sense of  work-life balance, in terms of caring responsibilities and leisure time: 60% said it was easier to balance work and care, while 62% said it was easier to balance work and social life. According to the press release, the pandemic has highlighted existing inequalities in mental health and caregiving responsibilities that affect a person’s ability to work at their best. Therefore, valuing public welfare is  not only a personal matter, but also a business matter. 

This analysis involved in-depth interviews with workers and managers who spoke before, during and after  the 4-day work week experiment. One nonprofit CEO  interviewed for the experiment said, “I hated the pandemic, but it made us see a lot more  and  made us all realize the importance of  a healthy head and family.” in a press release. 

 While some  feared a decrease in productivity, downsizing has allowed people  to reduce unnecessary idle time that does not contribute to productivity goals or the bottom line. This analysis revealed that the shortened working week did not affect the company’s turnover – it increased by an average of 14 percent across the business areas studied. In previous tests in the US and Ireland, turnover increased by 38 percent. 

“Many employees were very eager to find the increase in efficiency  themselves. Long meetings with too many people were canceled or completely abandoned. Workers did not want to kill much less time and were actively looking for technologies that would improve their productivity, Brendan Burchell, professor of social sciences and director of research at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release. 

 After the trial period ended, 56 out of  61 companies decided to reduce their working hours and 18 made the practice permanent.

Source: Fortune

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