Are You Ready for the 4-Day Work Week?

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Employee Engagement Strategies
Employee Engagement
Earlier this month, Google Co-Founder Larry Page entertained the notion of businesses implementing a four-day work week during a fireside chat with Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, when he said that everyone needing to work frantically "is just not true."

Earlier this month, Google Co-Founder Larry Page entertained the notion of businesses implementing a four-day work week during a fireside chat with Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, when he said that everyone needing to work frantically "is just not true."

Page's remarks received widespread media attention and had many corporations asking the question: Is it time for the four-day work week?

The notion makes sense: Stressed-out and overworked employees likely lead to lower productivity rates, increased retention, and rampant health conditions. For the doubters of the reduced work-week plan, a small number of companies, including Treehouse, 37Signals, and Slingshot, as well as some government entities have instituted a four-day work week and they've met with great success.

At 37signals, a software firm, employees work a 32-hour, four-day work week from May through October, and its CEO claims that he's seen an increase in productivity. "When there's less time to work, you waste less time," he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. "When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important."

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carlson also says his company's four-day work policy has directly increased morale and output.

And John Ashton, president of the U.K. Faculty of Public Health, even told Britain's Guardian newspaper recently that there's a need for a reduced work week so that "we can better enjoy our lives, have more time with families, and reduce high blood pressure by giving us the time to exercise."

Still doubtful about the benefits? Here are some additional workplace productivity stats:

- Productivity decreased 3.2 percent in the non-farm business sector in the first quarter of 2014

- According to the American Psychological Association two-thirds of both men and women say work has a significant impact on their stress level, and one in four has called in sick or taken a "mental health day" as a result of work stress.

- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claim that workers who must take time off work because of stress, anxiety, or a work conflict will be off the job for about 21 days.

- In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week

While the four-day work week movement provides us with an interesting debate, the likelihood of Corporate America adopting such an innovative approach is slim. Until the day comes when we can work 32 hours per week and spend more time with family and developing our personal interests, maybe we can think about other approaches to help reduce employees' blood pressure.

What do you think about these healthy workplace approaches to increase employees' happiness, boost productivity, and strengthen employee retention?

- Unlimited vacation
- Mandatory sabbaticals
- Free access to mental health tools
- Adopting a framework that considers psychological health at each stage of the employee lifecycle.

What are some of the innovative approaches you have you adopted at your company to improve the mental health of employees and increase workplace productivity?

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION