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4-day working week could kill culture: 2 in 3 willing to sacrifice work socials

Say good-bye to work culture: 66% of professionals have stated that they would be willing to give up work socials and relationships with colleagues, in favour of a 4-day working week.

The findings come from a recent poll by leading recruiter Robert Walters, of 3,500+ working professionals across Canada – and highlights the ‘not-so appealing side’ of the 4-day week to employers, with office relationships taking the biggest hit.

Martin Fox – Managing Director of Robert Walters Canada, comments:

“Workplaces have only just turned a corner and started to see more faces in the office – with that has come a burst of energy, collaboration, creativity, and productivity. It is disheartening for employers to hear that a progressive well-being initiative such as a 4-day week could have such a detrimental impact on workplace culture and business relationships.

“With the trials of 4-days being so new to many organisations, the long-term impact is hard to ascertain – but with 66% of professionals willing to forego socials and business relationships, companies should be mindful that poor company culture and conflict already costs the Canadian economy upwards of $2 billion a year.

“As with what we experienced with remote working and then the move to hybrid, any change in the workplace brings about its challenges – and a 4-day week will be no different, business leaders need to tread with caution.”

Whilst a large proportion of professionals would be willing to give up the social side of their working lives in favour of a 4-day week, only 17% put their hands up to forego hybrid work arrangements, and a further 11% would sacrifice training opportunities in favour of less working days.

Entitlement at its Best?

According to the findings from Robert Walters, a staggering 89% of professionals want their employer to implement a 4-day week.

In fact, 41% of employees stated that this would appeal to them most on a job description. Interestingly, this closely followed the ability to work from anywhere (46%) which highlights the importance of flexibility in the working world of today.

With almost half of professionals who would like a 4-day week expecting their full pay to remain the same, debates have begun on whether the post-pandemic workforce are ‘the most entitled yet’ – with fewer professionals feeling responsibility for the financial health or stability of their employer.

Just 12% of professionals stated that they would take a 10-15% pay increase over the option of a 4-day week, and it seems office-based soft perks such as work socials or complimentary lunch or breakfasts, are less appealing in the face of fewer working days – with just 1% stating that they would opt for this over a 4-day working week.

Martin adds: “It is absolutely right that workplaces should be held more accountable for the wellbeing of their employees, however professionals need to be considerate to the fact that this responsibility goes both ways, and they have a duty to contribute to the success of a business, especially in this current period of economic uncertainty.”

The Data

Earlier this year the independent trial of 38 companies in North America and over 3,000 employees undertaking a 4-day week concluded – with many highlighting this as a resounding success.

When this data is combined with findings from the Robert Walters poll, it seems that a successful 4-day work week is certainly a possibility for organizations in the future.

Key findings from the 4-day Week Pilot Trial include:

  • Work time declined by six hours, from 40.8 per week to 34.8.
  • On a 1-5 scale from never to all the time, reported work stress declined from 3.15 before to 2.95 after the trial.
  • Revenue rose approximately 8% over the trial and was up 37.55% in comparison to the same period in 2021.
  • On a scale of 0-10 from very negative to very positive, the companies’ average rating for the trial is a 9.0.
  • Two thirds of the companies in the pilot are continuing with the 4-day week, with over a quarter planning to continue but haven’t made the final decision yet.
  • Two in three (67%) employees reported lower levels of burnout.
  • 9.25% reduction in levels of fatigue.

Martin adds: “Highlighting this data is by no means a way of pointing out that a 4-day week will work for everyone. Just as with every kind of trial, a balanced view of the results needs to be provided to assist us in understanding what does and doesn’t work.

“There is a place for the 4-day working week in business, but this is by no means the silver-bullet to increase productivity revenue.

“We are much further along the path on flexibility, so for companies who are unsure whether to dive into a 4-day week then exploring what true-flexi looks like could be a better option. From later start or finish times, days off after major projects have been completed, to a certain number of hours dedicated to personal admin and wellbeing.

“One thing is feeling more certain, the traditional 9-5 is disappearing fast.”  

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