- Research increasingly supports the positive impact of shorter work weeks on productivity and employee satisfaction.
- According to LinkedIn, the people at the top of the ladder aren’t so supportive of the shortened work week, which includes: vice presidents, C-suite executives, founders and owners.
- When employees work less and have more free time to take care of personal matters, they’re able to focus more at work and be more productive. It’s a win-win for employers and employees.
Over the last few years, the concept of the workplace has been challenged unlike ever before. Coming into the office five days a week seems antiquated now, as research increasingly supports the impact of shorter work weeks on productivity and employee satisfaction.
Countries around the world have taken note of this as well – so much so that lawmakers in some countries have made the commitment to widespread four-day work weeks as part of their election campaign promises.
But still, there are some groups who aren’t crazy about the idea of the shortened work week.
The majority of workers (54%) want a four-day work week, according to the latest edition of LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index. The survey polled over 19,000 workers and found that the strongest interest in a four-day week comes from millennial women (64%) and Gen Z women (63%).
So who are those that are least interested in a four-day work week?
Well, according to LinkedIn, it’s the people at the top of the ladder: vice presidents, C-suite executives, founders and owners. Just 43% of them showed a high interest in shorter work weeks.
What does a four-day work week look like in practice?
Some variants involve longer, 10-hour shifts that retain an official 40-hour work week as the norm, but permit people to enjoy three days off. Other proposals call for shrinking the overall work week to just 32 hours.
In the U.S., interest in a four-day work week is slightly stronger among women (57%) than among men (51%). It’s also especially pronounced among younger generations, attracting 62% support from both Gen Z and millennials.
By contrast, only 56% of Gen X feel strongly drawn to a four-day work week. The percentage drops even further to 46%, for baby boomers.
According to George Anders, the author of the report:
“Asking top executives to scale back their work weeks is a bit like asking the NBA’s Steph Curry to stop taking so many three-point shots. What seems outlandish to the rest of us is just their everyday way of life.
A 2018 study by Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria found that CEOs work an average of 62.5 hours a week (versus an average of just 34.6 hours a week for everyone else). They put in nearly 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday, and 79% of them keep plugging away with another four hours or so of work on Saturdays and Sundays.
Vacations? Nah – why bother? Some 70% of CEOs work at least a couple hours a day during their supposed vacations, too.
Some senior executives feel most alive when they’re at work, making decisions and meeting with other powerful people. Others believe that extra hours will help them be winners, not losers, in fiercely competitive businesses. As the initial LinkedIn article pointed out, the fast tempo of modern business rewards executives who are ‘always on,’ tapping into the latest information and turning ideas into action faster than their rivals can do.
High-energy executives don’t seem to need – or want – as much down time as the rest of us. The perils of overwork might catch up with some of them. But even those executives may have few regrets; the amount of money they make during the peak of their careers can pay for a long and very comfortable retirement.”
The four-day work week is on the horizon
A survey by Digital.com found that 62% of businesses are moving toward a four-day work week. The survey asked 1,300 U.S.-based business owners if they plan to explore this revolutionary option, and found that:
- 27% of business owners have already switched to a four-day work week
- An additional 35% are considering making the move to a four-day work week
- Of those who haven’t yet switched but plan to, 86% say the change will happen in 2022.
A shortened work week doesn’t just improve the lives of workers; it simultaneously can improve work life for executives and managers. A survey from recruitment firm Reed found that the top perks of a four-day work week include better morale, fewer absences, and improved recruitment.
It seems that when employees have more free time to take care of personal matters, they’re able to focus more at work and be more productive. It’s a win-win for employers and employees.
Joe O’Connor, CEO of the 4 Day Week Global organization, said that in sectors such as technology, finance and some parts of professional services, momentum behind this working model was such that he could see it going from an ambition to the norm “really quickly, even in the space of two to three years.”
Overall, understanding the nuances of a shorter work week will help business leaders incorporate a model that is best suited for their operational needs, while also offering employees different and flexible working options.