A recently published research paper revealed that companies that gave their staff an extra day off per week, with no reduction in pay, experienced increased revenue alongside reduced absenteeism and resignations.
Workers felt less stressed and burnt out and reported higher rates of life satisfaction. Data released earlier this week also showed significant declines in the duration and frequency of commuting, plus other positive environmental outcomes. Moreover, none of the organisations participating in the study plan to return to a five-day week.
This comes after more than 30 companies, and almost 1,000 employees in countries including the US, Ireland and Australia recently concluded a six-month four-day week pilot programme coordinated by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global. “The two-day weekend is not working for people,” said lead researcher Juliet Schor, an economist and sociologist at Boston College who partnered with counterparts at University College Dublin and Cambridge University.
Companies rated the trial a 9.0 out of 10, expressing extreme satisfaction with their overall productivity and performance. Revenue increased by more than a percentage point each month, with a total rise of eight per cent during the trial. Compared to the same six months in 2021, it rose by 38 per cent.
The health and well-being of participants also improved, said Associate Professor Wen Fan of Boston College. “A wide range of well-being metrics showed significant improvement, including stress levels, burnout, fatigue and work-family conflict. Physical and mental health also improved, alongside satisfaction across multiple domains of life, which may be linked to people getting better sleep and more exercise,” she said.
Juliet added, “We were encouraged that participants did not experience increased work intensity. This suggests that the work re-organisation strategy succeeded and employees did not achieve performance via speedup, which is neither sustainable nor desirable.”
Speaking about their experience on trial, pilot participant Jon Leland, Chief Strategy Officer at crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, said, “Greater employee retention and faster hiring has been surprisingly powerful in driving improved business outcomes too. We’re achieving more as an organisation while giving people time to start new creative projects, rest, and be with their families. It’s a true win-win.”
Employees also rated the pilot highly, with 97 per cent saying they want to continue on a four-day week. When asked about the monetary value of their extra day off, 70 per cent said their next job would need to offer between 10 to 50 per cent more pay for them to go back to a five-day schedule, with over one in ten saying no amount of money could make them go back.