Half of workers would be tempted to quit and move to a competing company for a four-day working week, new research shows, with the majority predicting it would improve their mental health and wellbeing.
Recruiters Hays said a survey of more than 9,600 workers showed two in five believe a four-day week will become a reality within the next few years.
And around 53% of respondents said they would consider changing employers if offered a four-day week.
It comes as 60 UK businesses are set to trial a four-day working week from next month.
Gaelle Blake, from Hays, said: “We are seeing companies becoming more creative in what they can offer potential staff when trying to recruit in a competitive market.
“However, if employers don’t get the basics right such as offering competitive wages as well as flexible and blended working, the majority of professionals will turn to employers who have the basics correct.
“In our experience, there are still only a handful of companies offering a four-day week for example, and while this is an attractive offer, there are plenty of other ways to companies to stand out.”
Recruiters Hays said a survey of more than 9,600 workers showed two in five believe a four-day week will become a reality within the next few years. (Pictured: commuters arriving at London Waterloo in April)
The Pressure Drop brewery in Tottenham, north London, is one of the businesses taking part in the trial
“Actions such as having a strong purpose and offering staff the opportunity to take volunteer days are appealing, as is the introduction of wellness days.”
Around 60 companies will take part next month in a four-day trial week organized by a group campaigning for a shorter working week with no loss of pay.
The program, organized by scholars from Oxford, Cambridge and Boston College in the United States, will run from June to December, with the participation of various businesses and charities.
These include the Royal Society of Biology, hipster London brewery Pressure Drop, a medical device company in Manchester and a fish and chip shop in Norfolk.
Campaigners say the move will create a better work-life balance and boost productivity, but critics warn it will lead to more stress as employees try to cut working hours and leave companies with higher costs .
The trial, led by 4 Day Week Global, will see staff from different organizations doing the usual amount of work, and up to 35 hours a week, but spread over four days instead of five.
Platten’s Fish and Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk, is one of the businesses taking part in the four-day working week trial
The Royal Society of Biology will also allow staff to work four days instead of the usual five
Advantages and disadvantages of a four-day week
- Fewer distractions at work
- Longer hours don’t mean more output
- Improved mental well-being and physical health
- Parents with children feel less stressed
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Not all industries can participate
- This could deepen existing inequalities
- Cost risk for employers is expensive
- Workers can work the same hours anyway
- Difficult team management
Source: Adecco Group
The pandemic has seen more employees working from home and adopting more flexible hours instead of the usual nine-to-five day work week.
Joe O’Connor, managing director of 4 Day Week Global, said there was no way to “go back” to the pre-pandemic world.
“Increasingly, managers and executives are embracing a new working model that focuses on the quality of results, not the quantity of hours,” he previously told the Guardian.
“Workers have emerged from the pandemic with different expectations of what constitutes a healthy work-life balance.”
Large companies that have tried a four-day week but are not part of the trial are Unilever, Atom Bank and Panasonic.
Mark Downs, CEO of the Royal Society of Biology, said last month he had decided to take part in the trial to see if the change could help attract staff in an “incredibly competitive” job market.
Similar experiments are to take place in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, while trials are already underway in Spain and Scotland.
The researchers argued that the benefits of a four-day week would also allow staff to return more efficient work to their employers.
Several “influencer” agencies already operate a four-day work week, including Engage Hub, whose employees will have a Wednesday or Friday off, rotating every eight weeks.
It comes as businesses in Japan, another G7 economy, are increasingly switching to a four-day week to improve the work-life balance of its hard-working employees.
Japanese companies are increasingly switching to four-day weeks to improve the work-life balance of their hard-working employees
The shortened work week encourages staff to take more care of their children or elderly parents, volunteer, or pursue new hobbies or interests over the long weekend.
Major Japanese conglomerate Panasonic has become the latest company to offer its staff the chance to take a third weekend off.
The Japanese government said in its latest economic policy directive that it now encourages businesses to offer the optional four-day week.
Panasonic joins Hitachi, global bank Mizuho and operator Uniqlo Fast Retailing Co. in enabling staff to shorten their working week, Japan time reported.
Last year, 8.5% of businesses in the East Asian country did not practice a full five-day working week, according to a survey of 4,000 businesses.
Accredited four-day working week companies already operating in Britain
3D problem – a digital publishing platform
Scotland Direct Council – a consulting center
Autonomy – an independent think tank
big potato games – a board game company
Flash – an agency specializing in digital marketing
CMG Technologies – 3D metal casting
Causeway Irish Housing Association – a non-profit association offering temporary accommodation for young homeless single people
Charlton Morris – a specialized research firm
Common knowledge – a non-profit association building digital tools for field organizers
Contour Stitching – a beauty company
crystallized – a marketing agency
datalase – laser equipment supplier
Earth Science Partnership – a firm of engineers, geologists and applied environment specialists
Elektra Lighting – lighting consultants
Entrepreneurs Circle – a business development department
Evolved – search marketers
Four Day Week Ltd – a job site for a four-day week and flexible roles
Geeks for Social Change – software developers, activists and researchers with a social agenda
Gracefruit – a cosmetics company
Highfield Professional Solutions – a hiring agency
Legacy Events – an event company
MRLs – a recruitment firm specializing in high technologies and financial markets
PTHR – advice on design, development and change
Creative punch – a digital marketing agency
To restart – a digital marketing company
Resilience brokers – work to improve climate resilience
Award agency – a marketing agency
SG World – a software company
STOP AIDS – a charity to fight against HIV and AIDS
Sinister Fish Games – a board game company
Direct social enterprise – a technology solutions company
Sweeter Success – work with employees to prevent burnout
T Cup Studios – contribute to the well-being of employees
Targeted publication – an independent publisher
Technovent – a supplier of medical products for the body prostheses sector
The circle – hub for charities, social enterprises, community groups and businesses
The UPAC group – a packaging supplier
Risk component – a digital marketing agency
YWCA Scotland – a women’s movement leading change
splat – a digital marketing agency
streamGO – an event platform
Source; 4 day global week