Are You Ready For a Four-Day Workweek? A Tip From The Manager’s Answer Book

A firm in New Zealand recently tried an interesting experiment. They let their employees work for days a week while being paid for five days. The results were surprising to many—productivity went up while work/life balance increased by 24%.  Employees returned to work energized after their time off. 

According to a July 19, 2018 New York Times article, “Supervisors said staff was more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks. Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

There’s a lot we could learn from this experiment, primarily employees saw a significant increase in work/life balance when they had time away from work. They said they “spent more time with their families, exercising, cooking, and working in their gardens.” The firm found this experiment so successful it plans to make it permanent.

While a four day workweek may not be what your organization can support, think about how complicated our world is these days. Today’s employees, especially Millennials, want a real balance between the time they spend at work and the time they spend doing the things they need to do to stay sane!

Manager’s Tip:  We address this issue in The Manager’s Answer Book: “How can I address my employees’ desires for work/life balance with my business requirements?”

Some of the suggestions we offer are flexible work schedules such as a compressed work week or the option of working from home a day or two a week. As long as the work gets done in a timely manner and to your requirements, cut your people some slack on when they physically need to be at your place of work.

Encourage your employees to take time off. We’ve all heard the alarming statistics about how many Americans don’t use their vacation time because they’re afraid they won’t be seen as totally committed to their work. Everyone needs breaks to refresh and rest. Let your people know you want them to take time off and model what you want them to do—take your vacation time and use weekends to disconnect yourself. You’ll be amazed at how creative you are when you are away from work pressures.

Going back to the New Zealand experiment above, don’t you want your employees to be more productive and more energized?  If you can accomplish that in less time so your people have better work/life balance, all the better!

For more tips on work/life balance, see page 106 of The Manager’s Answer Book available on Amazon at:

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