Managing work-life balance and the problem of employee burnout have been challenges for businesses since decades. But the power of technology and the importance of employee wellbeing now being recognized, both becoming significant discussions globally.  

Last year in July, Gallup, a Research and Management consultancy firm studied 7,500 full-time employees in 2018 and found that 23% of them reported feeling a burnout at work often or always, while an additional 44% reported felt a burnout sometimes. In 2019, World Health Organization listed burnout in its handbook of International Classification of Diseases & Related Health Problems. A study by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace, a software services firm in 2017 also found that 46% of full-time employee say burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover. 

With the issue of burnout rising, it seems corporations are trying their best to break that trend and find a solution to manage or improve work-life balance – some even experimenting with the 4-day Workweek.  

Nixon predicted it, employees asked for it, and in 2019, Microsoft Japan experimented the most talked about “4-day Workweek” for the summer and observed an increase in productivity by 40%. Perpetual Garden in New Zealand, an Estate Planning, Philanthropy and Investment Advisory firm said that employees were more productive and were better able to manage work life balance which led to the adoption of 4-day Workweek permanently. Shake Shack in Las Vegas; Basecamp, a project management software company; Uniqlo, an online retail company; Treehouse, a company that offers virtual classes; Wildbit, a Software company; all experimented with the 4-day Workweek and managed to achieve positive outcomes. Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland recently put forth the idea of companies adopting a flexible six-hour day and a four-day workweek.

But the question then arises is: How can businesses implement 4-day workweek whilst also increase productivity? 

Get employee feedback 

Despite being sold on the potential benefits of the 4-day workweek, the key to managing a new system successfully is communication. 4-day workweek has its perks - a 3-day weekend which gives employees the time for leisure, time to spend with family & friends but on the flipside will it result it overworking and reduced productivity? Brainstorming and strategizing a plan of action with your employees will help you achieve maximum results. 

Review your customers 

How can businesses adopt the 4-day workweek and not lose customers? 

Understanding the requirements of your customers/clients and strategizing accordingly takes you one step forward to successfully implementing the 4-day workweek. For instance, if your business requires your employees to meet clients quite often, then having a 4-day workweek would require the business to shut down for an extra day. The possible solution for this could be to establish a rotating schedule between employees where they choose which would be their preferred 4th day of the week to work depending on employee position and customer requirements.

Experiment and Test

Changing the entire structure of the workweek cannot be established immediately after an announcement. It needs to be discussed, planned, tested and then implemented in phases to achieve positive results. For instance, businesses could start off the 4-day workweek once every month, and after a few months of testing, evaluate the results and arrive at a conclusion whether they should implement the 4-day workweek in the long run or not. 

Set an example

The most significant aspect in the 4-day workweek initiative is the example that the management sets. Particularly, in an entrepreneurial business setting, it’s occasionally hard for employees to quit working on the fifth day due to force of habit. It then depends on the managers to establish the pace. 

More recruitment advice from Michael Page 

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