Should your company consider a four-day workweek?

Employee stress and burnout have led some organizations to offer a shorter week to improve engagement.

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Employees are increasingly clamoring for schedules that allow for more work-life balance, including one that Amazon piloted: A four-day workweek. 

Nearly half (45%) of full-time workers said it takes less than five hours a day to do their job if they work uninterrupted, while 72% said they could work four days or less per week, if their pay remained constant, according to a 2018 study from the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace

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However, the four-day workweek remains rare in the tech industry, said Kitty Brandtner, director of technology sales at LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting, and culture firm. Less than 10% of companies offer this to most or all employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management

"So many technology groups operate with very flexible hours to begin with. So, to make people offline for an entire business day doesn't seem necessary at this point," Brandtner said. "Plus, if you are on the infrastructure side, it's definitely not feasible. A bigger draw for most technical talent is having flexible hours/schedules and the opportunity to work remote." 

Flexible and remote hours are a must for many organizations seeking top talent: Among US employers, 43% already offer remote work opportunities, and 49% allow employees to set their own hours, according to a report from Condeco Software. More than half (54%) of US companies said they offer remote work to increase retention, highlighting employee interest in such policies, the report found.

"Organizations these days are looking for innovative ways to engage employees and keep them motivated and loyal. Providing flexible hours and work weeks are definitely in that mix," said Brenda Stanton, vice president at Keystone Partners, an executive coaching and career transition firm. "Official four-day workweeks are rarer to find. However, many organizations are incorporating summer schedules where they test this concept with a four-hour workday on Friday – or giving the entire day off." 

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Companies that do offer a shorter week would likely attract lots of talent, Stanton said. "It's the talent that can self-manage and keep themselves accountable that will thrive in this environment and with this schedule," she added. "Individuals who are creative and entrepreneurial look for opportunities such as this because they are trusted with lots of freedom to do their best work. Individuals who need more structure and routine, will find this type of schedule challenging, and may need to find an employer with a more traditional set-up." 

Is a four day workweek right for your business?

To determine if a four-day workweek would work for your organization, company leaders should perform an audit on what they need most from their staff, Stanton said. 

"If you need individuals at their desks for certain hours and who don't want to veer from their standard duties and responsibilities, then this model may not be a good fit," she added. "However, if you yearn for individuals who want to take more ownership in their roles and go to new levels with the organization, then this schedule will demonstrate that your organization is committed to compensating for talent, not just time, and you just may find the rock star talent you're seeking to help you innovate and evolve with these changing and disruptive times."

For more, check out Does a 30-hour work week make sense for your business? Lessons from Amazon and How to negotiate a flexible schedule with your company on TechRepublic. 

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Image: iStockphoto/andy0man