On a typical Friday afternoon, an employee at Emtrain, a California-based human resources technology company, settles in for a nap.
Another enjoys riding lessons, while others play the piano, practice photography, or visit family or friends they haven’t seen in a long time.
They can because Emtrain adopted a four-day workweek pilot program in 2021, one of many companies around the world experimenting with a new way of working.
Even the boss likes it. “It’s been very, very moving to see the amount of time people have had in their lives,” said Emtrain President Odessa Jenkins. “We hear stories all the time where our employees are learning something new, interacting with family they’ve never had before, and it’s really changing the way they live their lives.”
Successful pilots of the four-day workweek, both in the US and abroad, have seen a multitude of benefits for both companies and employees, including improved employee well-being, increased productivity and a new way to retain and recruit talent in a competitive environment. Work market.
We asked three business leaders and a Fortune 500 executive coach why four-day workweeks are gaining popularity. Here’s what they say are the main benefits of this new way of working, and how to effectively sell the idea to your boss.
Employees have more time away from work
A four-day workweek gives employees back one of their most valuable resources: time.
After Emtrain switched to a four-day workweek, Jenkins was surprised by the impact the change had on his team.
“Giving your people more time to do what they want to do, to discover things about themselves, to explore, gives you an employee base that is more engaged with you, but also more engaged with your personal health,” Jenkins said. . “That brings us healthier, happier employees.”
Katie Klumper, CEO of Black Glass Consulting, a New York-based CMO consultancy, said she has seen similar results from Black Glass during its four-day workweek pilot program. Many of his employees are using their Fridays off as a “management” day to take care of basic tasks like laundry, shopping or cleaning.
“This allows them to truly have two days off [on the weekend]that allows them to have four days [at work] refreshed, present, focused and more productive,” Klumper said.
Having more personal time can also drive positive mental health outcomes for employees at a time when burnout is on the rise. “It’s incredibly helpful for people’s mental health and well-being to know that they now have an extra day to just [do life]said Daryl Appleton, a licensed psychotherapist and Fortune 500 executive coach.
Productivity often improves
A four-day work week forces you to be more efficient in all aspects of your job, including communication, Jenkins said. “It means committing to being very, very focused when you’re at work. And we saw that right away in our employee base.”
According to an internal company survey, 92% of Emtrain employees agreed that they were able to meet their high-priority job milestones during the four-day work week. Odessa has also not seen an increase in the number of employees working longer hours. “Maybe it’s more focused work, not more work,” Jenkins said.
Klumper said the transition to a four-day workweek has led his team to be more intentional about how they manage their limited time at work.
“Time is one of the most valuable assets we have as professionals, and valuing it and being really deliberate about where to apply was definitely a benefit,” he said. “It wasn’t built to have longer work days. It was meant to be the same hours we worked, but to do it in four days.”
The other piece is focus, Klumper said. Working a tighter schedule has helped your employees hone their craft and skills to get the job done faster. “There have been a lot of positive results in terms of teams being able to collaborate at a faster rate and being able to be much more intentional and intense about how work gets done,” he said.
Help recruit and retain talent in a competitive job market
In a 2022 survey by Forbes Health-Ipsos Monthly Health Tracker, 90% of employee respondents said it was important for their job to offer work-life balance. And 82% said it was important for their job to offer flexibility when they worked.
“I think if there’s one thing the Great Renunciation has taught us, it’s that given the chance to relax, people want to join companies where they can feel supportive of the lifestyle they want to live,” said Anthony Reynolds, CEO. from Utah. HireVue-based talent experience platform. (Instead of a four-day work week, HireVue gives its employees time off every Friday afternoon.)
Allowing more flexibility in the workplace can also help companies retain existing employees and help workers reach their full potential.
“He’s been a very talented driver,” Klumper said. “People are responsible. If you have the right people on the team, you could make every day [paid time off] and they would still join because they are passionate about the business. … If you have the right talent, they will get the job done and they will do it even better when they can do it on their terms.”
Both employees and the company benefit
“It’s hard to say [the four-day work week pilot] It hasn’t been beneficial, both qualitatively and quantitatively, because we’re also breaking our business targets,” Jenkins said. From a business productivity standpoint that we’ve improved, it’s hard to say it wasn’t a great idea.”
According to an internal survey, 82% of Emtrain employees reported experiencing better health and wellness as a result of the four-day work week, while 71-75% of employees said they experienced less unproductive stress at work.
Emtrain is not alone. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of surveyed organizations that had implemented a four-day workweek saw gains in employee satisfaction and productivity as a result of fewer meetings.
The non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, which is running a pilot program helping more than 70 UK businesses test a four-day work week, also reported similar results in its latest survey of participating organisations. According to the survey, 88% of respondents said the four-day workweek was working “well” for their companies three months after the six-month trial. Additionally, 95% of respondents said productivity remained the same or improved, and 86% said they would “probably” consider maintaining the four-day workweek policy after the trial ends.
How to Propose a Four-Day Workweek to Your Boss
Unless you’re a senior executive in your organization, trying out a four-day workweek will likely require your leadership to get involved. Here are some expert tips on the most effective ways to present the idea.
1. Compile the data
Before you pitch an idea to your organization’s leadership, do your research, Appleton said. Gather your data and resources, and most importantly, be prepared to explain why your idea is important.
“That’s the thing about leadership: They don’t want more work,” Appleton said. “Come prepared with everything you have on the table because that might be the only chance you have.”
2. Consider how a four-day workweek fits with your company’s existing values
Most “new” ideas are simply an iteration of something we’ve seen before, Jenkins said. Look at your company’s existing core values and see if any of them fit naturally with a more flexible schedule or a four-day work week.
For example, Emtrain already had an unlimited PTO policy prior to its four-day workweek pilot, which meant the company was already used to not having employees in the office on strict hours. Switching to a four-day work week was just another step in the same direction for a company that made flexibility one of its core values.
“[Ask yourself] what are the things you already have in your company that could lend themselves to more flexible working and amplify that,” Jenkins said.
3. Focus on business goals and objectives
At the end of the day, you’ll need to show your boss how a four-day work week will benefit the company. Gather success stories from other companies similar to the one you work for and be prepared to show how your proposal will increase or maintain profits while reducing expenses and increasing productivity.
“Come with a proposal that focuses on establishing success and then building on that success,” Jenkins said. “That’s always very consumable of [a leadership team’s perspective]. As an executive leader, if you bring me something that feels lower risk, higher reward and proven, it’s going to be very hard for me to say no.”
4. Suggest a pilot program
If your leadership is hesitant to implement such a big change, starting on a temporary pilot is a good way to transition to a four-day work week.
“Start slow,” advises Jenkins. “Don’t try to take your company faster or further than it might be ready to go. Pilot it.”
Emtrain and Black Glass began their four-day workweek programs as a pilot program, and HireVue did the same with their half-day Friday biweekly schedule.
If you’re looking for a place to start, the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global is coordinating six-month pilot programs that provide training, mentorship, and research for organizations interested in trying out a four-day work week.