You might remember that back in October last year, I wrote about the 4 day week campaign and how some companies were taking part in a pilot to see how it would work for them and their employees in reality.
Well, the results of that pilot have just been released and they make for some very interesting reading.
61 companies took part in the pilot and of them, 92% have decided to continue with the four-day week. 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout and reduced stress. Both mental and physical health improved, and levels of sickness, anxiety and sleeplessness decreased.
For employers, revenue stayed broadly the same which suggests there’s been no dip in productivity, especially given how challenging the last 6 months have been for businesses.
The companies which took part in the pilot were from different sectors and of different sizes and not everyone took a simple ‘close on a Friday’ approach to a 4 day week. They worked in consultation with their employees to ensure the change worked for them too and so some staggered the extra day off and some switched to an annualised hours model.
Although employees were working fewer hours, no employers reported a corresponding drop in productivity. Overall a majority of businesses said they were satisfied with company performance during the pilot.
The pilot period coincided with a time that some were calling the ‘Great Resignation’ where people were reassessing their work life after the pandemic. However, in the companies switching to a 4 day week, the data shows fewer resignations which suggests the new working pattern was a significant incentive to retaining employees. There was also a fall in sickness and absence rates.
It’s perhaps easier to anticipate that reducing working hours would have a positive impact on employees but still the results of the pilot are very interesting.
It should be said that not everyone went straight down to working just four days with some variation in exactly how many hours a week people worked. But that said, 71% of employees said their working hours reduced to an average of 34 hours per week.
In terms of employee wellbeing, 39% said they felt less stressed at the end of the pilot and 48% saying they felt more satisfied with their work than before the study started. 43% said they felt an improvement in their mental health and 37% said their physical health had improved.
There was also a significant positive impact on family life with employees reporting more time with family, feeling less tired and 60% said they had found it easier to balance care responsibilities. People had more time to look after children or elderly relatives, to spend on hobbies or volunteering in their community. There was also more time to cook from scratch which could have a positive health impact too.
The 4 day week pilot has had some perhaps unsurprising benefits for employees but also some quite unexpected benefits for employers too. And it is testament to those benefits that so many businesses are continuing with the model now the pilot has finished.
As the 4 day week campaign gains momentum, employees will look for employers who offer this working model and so we think it’s important for other employers to learn from the pilot and perhaps consider implementing it in their businesses in some form.
You can read about the pilot and download the full report here. The 4 Day Week campaign website can be found here which has lots more support and resources for employers and employees.