Data from the 4-day work week trial in the UK, involving 61 businesses and 2 900 employees over a 7-month period, has shown positive results:

  • Overall productivity and profitability – unchanged or increase by as much as 20%
  • Stress – declined by 40%
  • Burnout – decline by 75%
  • Decline in sick days taken
  • Improvement in Work-life balance

As of the 1st of March, 27 SA business (500 employees) begun their trial of the 4-day work week. The aim is to determine if it will improve productivity, employee wellness, talent attraction and retention.

While the case for SA to adopt a 4-day work week may be strong, in that SA only has 24% of engaged employees at work and the lowest scores globally for mental health (Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report).

The 4-day work week is based on the 100-80-100 model, where employees receive 100% of their salary for 80% of their time in exchange for delivering 100% of their work outputs. The fact that productivity must remain the same over a shorter period could increase stress and burnout, especially when employees are struggling to get their work done in 5-days. In addition, for those lower on the LMS scale, an extra day can lead to double \”jobbing\” thereby negatively impacting on their stress and well-being. In our view, the success of the 4-day work week is largely dependent on several variables, key being:

1. Nature of work – Leaders will need to assess the feasibility and practicality for their respective sector and industry, e.g., tech industries may lend themselves better than manufacturing and logistics (imagine the backlogs, and supply chain blockage points).

2. Performance management practice – Outcomes-based performance would be better suited verses time or service.

3. Leadership and culture – The model calls for heightened levels of trust on the part of the leaders, and accountability and maturity from employees.

Despite the attraction to 4-day work weeks, we suggest that leaders deeply consider the impact prior to adoption. There are other, possibly better suited, innovative people-centric solutions to consider, such as – flexible employment, flexihours, compressed days or even additional time off.

If you would like to brainstorm solutions or need to rework your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), please feel free to reach out to us.

Author: Anisha Patel (Managing Consultant)

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