4-day workweek gaining momentum; why employers are smitten with idea

May 5, 2022, 7:05 PM | Updated: 9:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — While it may sound like the beginning of the end for a company, that work-life balance has some companies saying they wish they had made the switch to a four-day workweek a long time ago.

Bosses have tried increasing pay, increasing benefits and increasing flexibility with work-from-home opportunities. But none of those seems to be the magic bullet employers hoped would bring their staffing levels back up to full Mark Vitale of the University of Phoenix said.

“There are more jobs than there are people and that’s been the case for a long time,” Vitale said.

His job as campus and academics director of the University of Phoenix is to figure out what skillsets companies need in new hires and to make sure his school is helping to churn that out. But lately, Vitale is also finding himself coaching companies that they need to adapt and to consider offering talent a four-day workweek.

“This is a way to differentiate and adapt to the changing labor force needs,” he said.

A four-day workweek is not just simply four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts. It is four, eight-hour days – maybe less if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

“You’re getting paid the same for 32 hours across four days as you would for 40 hours across five days,” Vitale said.

News that workers like the idea, might not come as a surprise to you.

According to a recent Qualtrics survey,  92% of those surveyed say they would want a four-day workweek. One-in-three said they would even take a 5% or more pay cut to get it.

But here is the surprising thing: most companies who have tried it also like it. Numerous reports and surveys indicate people do not slack off. Rather, it is the opposite. The consensus of many studies is staffers will work harder to get the five days of work done in four.

In Iceland, companies like it so much, it has become the norm. In Sweden, Japan, Spain and here in the U.S., several companies are experimenting with a 32-hour workweek. That includes some giants like Microsoft.

“What they’re finding is that when you empower people in the way that you need to make this kind of a transition work, you’re getting greater productivity,” Vitale said. “And there’s also less chance that people are going to resign.”

A four-day workweek may be considerably tougher to work out for service-type jobs, such as those in restaurants and hotels. Yet, expert say it is not impossible. Employers will have to adjust hours or bring in more people to cover the extended business hours that come with the territory.

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4-day workweek gaining momentum; why employers are smitten with idea