The past few years have been a time of unprecedented change in the way we work. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies and employees alike to explore new strategies for managing their work week, such as working from home and adopting flexible schedules.
As a result, many are questioning whether the traditional 5-day workweek is the best model for productivity, employee well-being, and overall health. In response to this, a number of companies have started experimenting with a 4-day workweek, and the results have been intriguing.
Results From a UK Pilot Program
In 2022, the world’s largest 4-day workweek trial was conducted in the UK, involving 61 companies and approximately 2,900 employees. The trial was designed to provide a ‘meaningful’ reduction in work time for employees while maintaining their pay at 100%.
The companies involved in the trial were from diverse sectors and sizes, and each developed their own tailored policy for the 4-day workweek.
The results of the trial were overwhelmingly positive, with 56 of the 61 companies continuing with the 4-day workweek, and 18 immediately confirming it as a permanent policy.
Employees reported significant improvements in their well-being, with 39% experiencing less stress, and 71% experiencing reduced levels of burnout. Levels of anxiety, fatigue, and sleep issues also decreased, and both mental and physical health improved.
Employees also found it easier to balance work with family and social commitments, with 54% reporting it was easier to balance work with household responsibilities. Furthermore, 62% reported it easier to combine work with social life.
The positive effects of the 4-day workweek were not limited to employee well-being, as companies reported revenue staying approximately the same over the trial period, even rising by 1.4% on average.
Additionally, the number of staff leaving the participating companies dropped by 57% over the trial period.
Benefits to Health
So what can a 4-day workweek do for your health? The results of the UK pilot program suggest that there are a number of benefits, including:
- Reduced stress levels: Employees reported experiencing less stress, which can have a significant impact on overall health. Chronic workplace stress has been linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
- Reduced burnout: Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that is often caused by prolonged stress. The trial showed that a 4-day workweek could significantly reduce levels of burnout, which can have a positive impact on employee well-being.
- Improved mental health: The trial showed that a 4-day workweek can lead to improved mental health for employees, including reduced anxiety, fatigue, and sleep issues. This can have a positive impact on overall health and well-being.
- Better work-life balance: Employees reported finding it easier to balance work with family and social commitments, which can reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
If you are an employer who is capable of implementing a 4-day workweek for your staff, it is certainly worth considering.
While a 4-day workweek may not be suitable for all companies or industries, the results of this new trial (combined with previous research on the subject) suggest that it is worth exploring as a potential strategy for improving employee health and well-being, as well as improving the productivity and profitability of your business.