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4-day work week!

Well, it is all the talk in the HR and Safety world! Should employers embrace or at least think about a 4-day work week? What about employees; is this something they are asking for? Let’s face it North Americans are workaholics! When businesses gave up the Wednesday afternoon and Sunday closures, the impact was huge. Some of you are saying; wow, how old are you?

What would happen if we all worked 4 days a week? I am not a proponent of a 10-hour workday. I think a 9-hour workday with a 30-minute unpaid lunch and two 15-minute breaks works with no changes in wages, but instead a shorter work week. This means employees work 34 hours a week and physically at work for 36 hours in a week. I believe if this is going to work, employers will need to maintain the current wage for less hours worked. Essentially, a decent pay raise for everyone.

How do you sell this to the employer? Businesses currently using this model are seeing higher productivity, more rested staff, fewer injuries, and happiness to return to work after three well-rested days. For those who want to volunteer, gain work experience at another job, or earn a little extra cash, this all this becomes doable. The “gig” economy is telling our marketplace that this is desirable, and that people like freedom and flexibility. A four-day work week is a great chance for the less experienced employees to gain some skills, and perhaps introduce retirement, gently, to those who really need to go.

The pay difference will soon be realized in increased productivity and satisfaction levels of your employees. Research indicates a 40% increase in productivity. I am very skeptical of that, but even at 15%, as an Employer, that is a win. But you need to balance the workload and not just the hours and breaks. To do this effectively, employers need to ensure ample coverage and staffing models to allow for a reduced work week. Perhaps even a new hire or two to offset the shortages, and a model of full-time employment verses part-time.

At least try the conversation and see what develops; I did and was surprised!

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