The idea of reduced working hours is not exactly new. Observers have long predicted that automation would lead to a shorter working week. As far back as 1930 notable economist JM Keynes even predicted that technological advances would eventually lead to a 15 hour week.
While that may be some time off, there is no denying the overall trend in both employers and employees recognising the many positive benefits of a reduced working week.
A 2012 human resources report on flexible working found that 73% of employers surveyed felt that implementing flexible working practices had a positive impact on staff retention with a similar figure reporting a positive impact on employee motivation. Two years later, a 2014 YouGov survey found 57% of workers supported the idea of a 4-day week and that 71% thought it would make Britain “a happier place”.
The medical world has particularly identified the four day week as a much needed counter balance to modern life. So what are the perks of a four day week?
- Family life: reduced working hours are especially helpful to parents with young children and workers with other caring responsibilities. A ‘long hours’ work culture has been shown to have detrimental effects on family life and can lead to increased stress;
- Health: shorter working hours contribute to less stress for employees who can have more time to rest, exercise or enjoy leisure time. It can also mean one less day spent on hectic commuting!
- Work-life balance: All these reasons lead to better work-life balance but there are other simple perks such as being able to do ‘working hour’ errands during the week or taking the time for extra skills training or other learning;
- Productive workforce: for employers, having a flexible working policy can lead to happier and more positive workers. Less stress and sickness means higher productivity and better morale. Research has also shown that workers become more focussed on their tasks when working in a compressed time frame;
- Retention and recruitment benefits: research has also shown that a 4-day week or other flexible working means that employees feel more loyalty to their organisation resulting in less staff turnover for businesses. Demonstrating flexibility is also a key feature in attracting staff.
So for employees a 4-day week is all about work-life balance and for employers it’s about a more motivated and productive workforce.
While the benefits of a more flexible approach seem undisputed, organisations need also to consider the practicalities. How can you easily keep track of the varied hours which different employees are working? How can you make sure your Payroll staff work on accurate information?
It’s important that employers have the right tools to deal with some of the management complexities which flexible working can inevitably bring. An automated time and attendance system such as uAttend is ideal for keeping track of hours worked, planning ahead and also for interacting with your payroll systems.
While you make positive changes to the working lives of your employees, make sure you have a modern 21st century workplace which can deal with the challenges. Simple but smart time management technology such as uAttend can help you meet the challenge.
The Guardian Top doctor says ‘Four day weeks combats stress
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2014 article “Right to request flexible working extended to all employees”
2012 CIPD Survey Report: