Four-day workweeks are enjoying a surge in popularity among the U.S. workforce, and it’s not hard to understand why. They give employees more free time and studies show they increase productivity on the days when people do work. But there are a few drawbacks, as well. Before implementing a four-day workweek, make sure you have a thorough understanding of what that involves.
Five Steps for Success
A 2019 survey of 2,763 HR specialists found that 32 percent of U.S. employers offer four-day workweeks of a full 40 hours all or part of the year, and another 15 percent of employers offer four-day workweeks of 32 hours or less. These options are very popular with employees, who are given more flexibility over their work schedules. There are some downsides, however; customers might have to wait longer for service or be unable to speak with a particular person they have developed a rapport with. Still, many companies consider these issues minor and are willing to find solutions when it means their employees are more engaged.
If you’re thinking about adopting a four-day workweek, make sure you follow these steps in order to have the best chance at success.
- Define your four-day workweek. Will you be cutting out a full day and having your staff only work 32 hours, or extending their shifts the rest of the week so they are still working 40 hours over longer days? The second option is more popular, but regardless of which you choose, be sure to make your intentions clear from the start so everybody understands.
- Consider customer impact. Successful four-day workweeks don’t come at the sacrifice of productivity and customer service. You’ll need to decide whether your company is closed entirely for the fifth day or you’re going to stagger shifts to ensure adequate coverage Monday through Friday. Since needs vary by industry and organization, what works for one company might not work for another.
- Discuss policy and wage issues. Because overtime laws vary by state, you’ll need to determine what those guidelines are before making your decision. It’s important to figure out how the shortened workweek will impact not only overtime but paid time off, sick leave, and benefits eligibility. If your company has part-time employees, how will they be affected?
- Make communication and training priorities. When implementing a four-day workweek, it’s essential to issue a policy statement from top management that includes goals and expectations. Training may be necessary in order to help employees adapt to the new schedule.
Have a trial run first. Before committing fully, try out the four-day workweek for a little while to gauge its effect on productivity and customer service. If problems arise, you can look for solutions before implementing fully—or decide that you’re better off sticking to a traditional five-day workweek.