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4-day week: satisfied and more productive employees?

Well-being at work is a topic that is increasingly prone to change in the 21st century. Spreading your working time over a four-day week is now possible. Some companies in some countries have adopted this rhythm, or at least are trying to do so.

According to the few results obtained, as in Belgium for example, the four-day week would improve the well-being and productivity of employees. In this article, we will only focus on the consequences in terms of employee well-being.

Why and how to adopt the 4-day week?

Several countries around the world have taken steps to implement this four-day work week. Countries such as Iceland, where the largest experiment was conducted, but also Belgium, Spain, New Zealand or Japan.

Would it be an utopian model to believe that it is possible to change and reduce one’s working hours while maintaining the growth of a company?

In Spain, the government wanted to implement the experiment with the aim of trying this idea on 200 companies during 2022. The CEO of the company Software Delsol, who implemented this new organization, was able to measure its impact.

Although testing this new organization may have generated costs, Software Delsol sees it in a different view. The creation of new jobs has been increased by 15% and yet it is an investment for the company. An investment because, even with one less working day in the week, the company was able to increase its turnover by 20% and reduce its absenteeism rate by 28%.

3 days for yourself to boost productivity

A four-day week in the company, a three-day weekend for our well-being. We have just seen that employees seem to be more productive following this reduction in working hours.

Indeed, working a 4-day week gives employees more time to grow. Not just for rest, but also to develop new skills, start a new and healthier lifestyle, or pursue their passions.

Héctor Tejero, political coordinator of the Spanish political party Más País, states that after this period of covid-19, citizens want to live better. Moreover, he says that people who have more time for them, have more sustainable behaviors, such as reducing the use of the car or buying instead in local shops.

These are elements that improve the well-being of employees. Happier employees are therefore inevitably more productive for the company. This is why we can put forward Parkinson’s law which shows that :

The more time you have to complete a task, the more likely you are to fully use that time.

Loi de Parkinson

Working in shorter but more intensive periods of time would increase efficiency. However, it can also be a burnout factor for employees. Since it would mean that they have to work under pressure in a reduced working time.

Towards a much improved employee experience?

A happy and satisfied workforce is a workforce with an optimal employee experience. Working a four-day work per week means reorganizing your day. The schedule is therefore more spread out over the day, but shortened to a 4-day week instead of 5.

However, even if the salary remains the same, it is necessary to work slightly more during the day. In France, the company Accenture had the idea of modifying the working time, testing it on pilots of 1000 employees.

Olivier Girard, president of the company, explains that listening to the Voice of the Employee is extremely important for a company. Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial to understand the needs of its employees. First, to provide them with what they need to satisfy them. And secondly, because they are actors of the company’s success, you have every interest in ensuring that well-being at work is respected.

Collaborators need more flexibility, so they can rearrange their schedules. They can work a 4-day week, but arrange to work 5 days, which is an average of 35 hours. This is a way of not changing salaries.

What can be the impact on a company?

If we were to summarize the impact of the four-day week, we would see that it has a direct impact on the health, satisfaction, productivity and even the growth of a company.

In addition to employee productivity, if they feel happier at work, the risk of churn (resignation) tends to decrease. Obviously, other factors must be taken into account, such as the atmosphere at work, the environment, etc.

A project that is difficult to apply in all sectors

While it’s simple to implement this flexibility for tech/digital companies (for example) in hours and days worked during the week, it’s not as easy for other sectors.

Indeed, when you look at this topic for sectors such as Supply Chain, Construction, and all those fields that are not closely related with the digital world, you realize very quickly that it is complicated to remove working days in the week.

This would have a huge cost for the company in terms of productivity or strengthening its workforce. Nevertheless, companies such as LDLC have implemented this four-day week. All employees, including the chairman of the board of directors of the group, Laurent de la Clergerie, are not required to work on Friday. The result of this project is a 40% increase in productivity, according to the founder.

Finally, we see on several occasions, whether in France, Belgium or Spain, not to mention all the countries, that this measure to organize the activity differently brings an advantage in terms of productivity. The four-day week would therefore be one of the perspectives of evolution of the way of working, which would be more or less applicable according to the sector of activity.

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