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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article14 November 2022European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion2 min read

Could a four-day working week be the future for your employees?

Conversations around a four-day working week have reignited recently with momentum growing for its implementation. Here, we share some of the reasons why a four-day working week could be the future for your employees.

Could a four-day working week be the future for your employees?

Improves productivity

It is a general misconception that the more hours you work, the more productive you will be. Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, a shorter work week may result in greater productivity.

Many studies have shown that when employees work less days, they are more motivated to work and are able to focus and manage their time more effectively. A perfect example of this is the 2019 Microsoft Japan experiment, which demonstrated a 40% increase in productivity and employee satisfaction. Most of the companies participating in the four-day week pilot programme in the UK have said productivity has not decreased and, in many cases, there has been a significant improvement. So, if productivity is your concern, then a four-day working week may just be the answer for you and your employees.

Improves mental health and wellbeing 

We live in a highly competitive and demanding work environment. Employers increasingly want more from their workers, which means workloads and expectations are increasing. Having only two days off may not be enough time for your employees to recover. This could lead to burnout and issues with mental wellbeing.

An extra day off gives your employees the chance to rest and fully recuperate. This means that they will have fewer illness-related absences – absences that can cause further mental stress, as employees will feel that they are falling behind at work. Employees in a pilot study in Iceland reported less stress, fewer instances of burnout, and improved mental and physical health. They also felt happier and more energised at work.

Increases employee happiness

Reducing the working week and having a longer weekend will give your employees more free time and improve their work-life balance. This can reduce the amount of pressure and stress employees bring into the workplace, meaning you’ll have a more motivated and dedicated workforce.

The extra day off allows employees to spend time with their friends and families. Having the time to do things that they enjoy and love can increase the overall happiness of your employees, and could potentially help strengthen their loyalty to your company.

Helps the environment

The pandemic has meant that for many people, working remotely has become the norm. However, not all industries allow for remote work, and in some cases, a four-day working week can help employees to save on fuel and commuting costs, as well as to improve their carbon footprint. Microsoft Japan’s 2019 experiment saw electricity costs drop by nearly a quarter, for example.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by the Henley Business School estimates that a four-day working week would see employees driving around 560 million fewer miles (900 kilometres) every week. At a time where a lot of us are dealing with a severe cost of living crisis, these extra savings carry added significance.

Looking for more tips on keeping your workforce happy? Check out our article on How to be a great employer.

Related links:

2019 Microsoft Japan experiment

Four-day week pilot programme


2012 study by the Henley Business School

How to be a great employer


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