All four it! Half of workers would consider quitting their job for different employer offering a four-day working week to ‘improve their mental health and wellbeing’ – as 60 UK companies prepare to trial it
Half of workers would be tempted to quit and move to a rival company for a four-day work week, new research suggests, with the majority predicting it would boost their mental health and wellbeing.
Recruiters Hays said a survey of more than 9,600 workers showed that two in five believe a four-day week will become a reality in the next few years.
And around 53 per cent of respondents said they would consider moving to a different employer if a four-day week was offered.
It comes as 60 UK companies are set to trial a four-day working week from next month.
Gaelle Blake, of Hays, said: ‘We’re seeing companies getting more creative in what they can offer prospective staff when trying to recruit in a competitive market.
‘However, if employers don’t get the basics right such as offering competitive salaries along with flexible and hybrid working, the majority of professionals will look elsewhere to employers who have got the fundamentals right.
‘From our experience, there’s still only a handful of companies offering a four-day week for example, and while this is an attractive offering, there are lots of other ways for companies to stand out.
Recruiters Hays said a survey of more than 9,600 workers showed that two in five believe a four-day week will become a reality in the next few years. (Pictured: Commuters arriving at London Waterloo in April)
Pressure Drop brewery in Tottenham, North London, is one of the businesses taking part in the trial
‘Actions such as having a strong purpose and offering staff the opportunity to take volunteer days is attractive, as is introducing wellbeing days.’
Around 60 companies will take part in a four-day week trial next month organised by a group campaigning for a shorter working week with no loss of pay.
The programme, organised by academics at Oxford, Cambridge and Boston College in the US, will run from June to December, with a range of businesses and charities taking part.
They include the Royal Society of Biology, hipster London brewery Pressure Drop, a Manchester medical devices firm, and a fish and chip shop in Norfolk.
Campaigners say the move will create a better work-life balance and boost productivity, but critics warn it will lead to more stress as employees attempt to squeeze more work into fewer hours, and leave firms with higher costs.
The trial, led by 4 Day Week Global, will see staff members from different organisations completing the usual amount of work, and up to 35 hours each week, but split over four days rather than five.
Platten’s fish and chip shop in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk, is one of the businesses taking part in the four-day working week trial
The Royal Society of Biology will also allow staff to work four days rather than the usual five
Pros and cons of a four-day week
- Fewer distractions at work
- Longer hours does not mean more output
- Increased mental wellbeing and physical health
- Parents with children find themselves less stressed out
- Lowered carbon footprint
- Not all industries can participate
- It might widen existing inequalities
- The cost risk for employers is expensive
- Workers may put in the same hours anyways
- Difficult team management
Source: Adecco Group
The pandemic has seen more employees working from home and adopting more flexible hours instead of the usual nine-to-five, five-day working week.
Joe O’Connor, the chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, said there was no way to ‘turn the clock back’ to the pre-pandemic world.
‘Increasingly, managers and executives are embracing a new model of work which focuses on quality of outputs, not quantity of hours,’ he previously told the Guardian.
‘Workers have emerged from the pandemic with different expectations around what constitutes a healthy life-work balance.’
Major companies that have tried out a four-day week but are not part of the trial include Unilever, Atom Bank and Panasonic.
Mark Downs, CEO of the Royal Society of Biology, said last month that he decided to take part in the trial to see if the change could help attract staff in an ‘incredibly competitive’ labour market.
Similar experiments are due to be held in the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, while trials are already being conducted in Spain and Scotland.
Researchers have been arguing that benefits to a four-day week would also see staff return a more efficient work performance for their employers.
Several ‘influencer’ agencies are already operating a four-day working week, including Engage Hub, whose employees will have either a Wednesday or a Friday off, rotating every eight weeks.
It comes as companies in Japan, a fellow G7 economy, are increasingly switching to four-day weeks to improve the work-life balance for its hard-working employees.
Japanese companies are increasingly switching to four-day weeks to improve the work-life balance for its hard-working employees
The shortened working week encourages staff to take more care of their children or elderly parents, volunteer or pick up new hobbies or interests during the extended weekend.
Major Japanese conglomerate Panasonic became the latest company to offer staff the option of taking a third weekend day off.
The Japanese government said in its most recent economic policy guideline that it is now encouraging companies to offer the optional four-day week.
Panasonic joins Hitachi, global bank Mizuho and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing Co., in allowing staff to shorten their working week, the Japan Times reported.
Last year, 8.5 per cent of companies in East Asian country were not enforcing a full five-day working week, a survey of 4,000 firms found.
The accredited four-day work week companies already operating in Britain
3D Issue – a digital publishing platform
Advice Direct Scotland – an advice hub
Autonomy – an independent thinktank
Big Potato Games – a board game company
Blink – a specialist digital marketing agency
CMG Technologies – 3D metal moulding
Causeway Irish Housing Association – a not-for-profit organisation provind temporary accommodation for young single homeless people
Charlton Morris – a specialist search firm
Common Knowledge – a not-for-profit building digital tools for grassroots organisers
Contour Couture – an aesthetics company
Crystallised – a marketing agency
Datalase – laser equipment supplier
Earth Science Partnership – a consultancy of engineers, geologists and applied environmental scientists
Elektra Lighting – lighting consultants
Entrepreneurs Circle – a business development service
Evolved – search marketing specialists
Four Day Week Ltd – a jobs site for four day week and flexible roles
Geeks For Social Change – software developers, activists and researchers with a social agenda
Gracefruit – a cosmetics company
Highfield Professional Solutions – an employment agency
Legacy Events – an events management company
MRL – a specialist recruitment company for high technology and financial markets
PTHR – a design, development and change consultancy
Punch Creative – a digital marketing agency
Reboot – a digital marketing firm
Resilience Brokers – working to improve climate resilience
Reward Agency – a marketing agency
SG World – a software company
STOP AIDS – a HIV and AIDS charity
Sinister Fish Games – a board game company
Social Enterprise Direct – a technological solutions company
Softer Success – working with employees to prevent burnout
T-Cup Studios – helping employee wellbeing
Target Publishing – an independent publisher
Technovent – a supplier of medical products for the body prosthesis sector
The Circle – hub for charities, social enterprises, community groups and businesses
The UPAC Group – a packaging supplier
Venture Stream – a digital marketing agency
YWCA Scotland – a movement of women leading change
flocc – a digital marketing agency
streamGO – an events platform
Source; 4 Day Week Global