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Will the Business Leaders of Tomorrow Embrace a Four-Day Workweek?

Master of Business Administration (MBA) studies in organizational behavior, strategic management and policy formulation develop the expertise business professionals need to help improve a company’s culture and employee experience while increasing productivity and profitability. One of today’s hottest business topics is the four-day workweek, which has gained traction with recent studies and trials demonstrating its measurable, positive impacts on organizations.

The most recent pilot program — the largest yet — revealed fascinating results, with 92% of participating companies planning to continue their trials and 90% of employees saying they definitely want to continue on a four-day week. Run by 4 Day Week Global, the program comprised 61 companies and 2,900 workers working reduced hours for the same pay.

These are some key findings for companies that underwent the four-day-workweek pilot program:

  • Compared to a similar period from previous years, organizations reported average revenue increases of 35%
  • Companies rated their overall experience of the trial an 8.3/10
  • The number of staff leaving fell by 57% over the trial period

Employees responded in the following ways:

  • 71% of employees had reduced levels of burnout by the trial’s end
  • 54% said they felt a reduction in negative emotions, and 39% were less stressed
  • 37% of employees saw improvements in physical health, and 46% reported less fatigue
  • 73% said they had greater satisfaction with their family and household time

These results came from the U.K., but the company took its program to 91 companies and 3,500 workers worldwide and found similar results. These findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting the merits of such a transition, showing that we have reached a tipping point for many organizations to consider a four-day workweek.

Understanding How a Four-Day Week Can Benefit U.S. Organizations

As an aspiring business leader, you may be positioned to determine if the four-day week is ideal for your workforce and organization. Certainly, the above study compels professionals to consider how working hours have changed over time and how the U.S. economy has performed through those changes.

Globally, “working hours for the average worker have decreased dramatically over the last 150 years,” according to Our World in Data. For example, in the U.S., the average worker in 1952 logged 2,027 hours per year, and by 2017, the average dropped to 1,757 — a 13% reduction in time working. This trend has resulted from decreased working hours per day and fewer working weeks per year due to holidays and paid time off. However, during this time frame, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) remained relatively steady.

With this history in mind, we can examine some of the potential benefits of a four-day workweek, as well as the reasons and considerations:

  • WeThrive states that overworked employees are less productive than employees working an average workweek due to stress and fatigue. Not pushing employees to or beyond the brink could have the reverse effect.
  • Employees could show improvements in job satisfaction, teamwork, work/life balance and company loyalty, as shown in a New Zealand study by Perpetual Guardian.
  • New technologies and tools, from equipment and machinery to AI-driven software, are designed to extract more productivity from employees, enabling them to accomplish as much or more in less time.

The four-day workweek has the potential to be a compelling competitive advantage in recruiting, hiring and retaining top talent. If the four-day workweek becomes mainstream, it might be a competitive disadvantage not to implement it. In the meantime, it may be feasible for many companies to transition by first compressing the current working hours into four days.

Potential Negative Consequences for Some U.S. Organizations

Just as there are many pros to consider, there are also some potential cons for companies considering a four-day workweek, such as:

  • Some economists have warned that a shorter workweek, while keeping wages steady and having to pay additional overtime, could push companies to shift jobs out of California where a recent four-day workweek bill was shelved. If they are justified in their concerns, the shift could force some participating companies to shift some jobs overseas.
  • Companies that reduce their weekly work hours would likely have to reduce their average time spent in meetings to avoid disproportionately impacting individual worker productivity.
  • Shortening the workweek could negatively impact revenues and profitability for some companies, and employees could see a resulting stagnation or reduction in their income.
  • For companies that transition by compressing hours into four long days, employees may experience more fatigue and stress and have difficulty balancing work with personal commitments, leading to reduced productivity and job satisfaction.

Graduating from the AASCB-accredited online MBA program at the University of West Florida (UWF) can help you participate in critical discussions around this proposition. With courses like Management and Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management and Policy Formulation, Business and Public Policy and Operations Management Problems, the University of West Florida’s online MBA program can prepare you to apply your expertise and influence in a highly pivotal organizational decision.

Learn more about the University of West Florida’s online MBA program.

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