Will Four-Day Workweeks Boost Employee Productivity?

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Mar 30, 2020
Image Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Shortening the workweek isn't the answer to increasing productivity.

  • Shortening the workweek isn't necessarily the answer to increasing productivity.
  • Giving employees more autonomy can often allow you to expect more from your employees.
  • Not every business can offer a four-day workweek. If you can't offer a four-day workweek to employees, there are other steps you can take to help your employees feel supported and valued.

There is a popular phenomenon that suggests giving workers a four-day workweek rather than a five-day workweek may produce higher quality, more motivated employees.

While more time at home (and more productive hours when clocked in) sounds great to employers and employees, a four-day workweek is not required to motivate employees. In fact, employee motivation has nothing to do with how many days a person works in a week.

How to improve productivity without switching to a four-day workweek

Even though switching to a four-day workweek is being heralded as the best solution for productivity issues, there are plenty of methods of boosting productivity without switching to this work model. 

  • Be authentic. One of the best ways to produce productivity is by being authentic. If you truly want your employees to develop a rapport with you that encourages them to go above and beyond for you and the company, you need to be as authentic as possible.

  • Be transparent. Additionally, you need to work on building a culture with transparency. Employees are more likely to work harder when they feel safe, secure, and like they are being told everything they need to know. If you have a secretive culture, you will only serve to alienate your employees which will adversely affect productivity.

  • Show appreciation. Another way to get your employees to be more productive is by showing that you are appreciative when they do a great job. This will encourage them to try to do more because they feel that they are valued.

Give employees more schedule flexibility.

Consider granting your employees more autonomy, and hold them to a higher standard. By empowering employees to be the CEO of their own responsibilities, they can be more motivated and want to provide greater results.

Let employees be their own personal CEO.

To succeed as CEOs of their own responsibilities, employees must be determined self-starters. The strength of their work ethic lies in how they go above and beyond to accomplish the initial goals laid out for them without a higher up peering over their shoulder at every turn. As a busy small business owner, you probably don't have time to constantly check up on the progress of everyone's work. So why shouldn't your employees have the same freedom to divide up their tasks in a way that is most beneficial to them?

Obviously, not every individual is interested in surpassing expectations. Much like the increased productivity seen in some four-day workweeks, selecting innovative and driven employees makes for heightened efficiency in project execution. Trust communicates respect, and employees who are made to feel capable of greater success are more likely to achieve it.

While a four-day workweek may increase productivity in some workplaces, simply slicing hours will not motivate employees into becoming leaders. For long-lasting company success, workers must be treated with the same value as a chief executive.

Employers should search for ways to empower their workers as capable individuals; turning to quick fixes like a four-day workweek will not transform employees. It is by cultivating leadership qualities and treating individuals as CEOs of their own responsibilities that employers will earn the pleasure of working with a highly motivated team that endeavors to prosper.

Four-day workweek vs. five-day workweek

Although four-day workweeks have their advantages, they also have their disadvantages. According to Breathe, the following is an overview of the advantages of a four-day workweek versus a five-day workweek:

Four-day workweek

  • Cost reduction: A four-day workweek can cut costs for everyone. It can allow the employer to cut costs on things such as utilities and other operational costs. This also allows employees to cut costs on things such as transportation, food, etc.

  • Happier employees: A four-day workweek also allows employees to have more free time, which, in turn, usually leads to happier employees.

  • Fewer health issues: A study conducted in the U.K. asserted that 37% of U.K. businesses saw an increase in stress-related absences in 2019. Having a four-day workweek may help boost the health of your employees overall.

  • Recruitment and retention: Having a four-day workweek can also help with recruitment and retention. This is because those who are looking for jobs that allow more flexibility.

Five-day workweek

  • More conducive to certain business models: Although a four-day workweek can be great for many reasons, they are not always conducive to every work model. This means that many businesses would have to totally change the way in which they conduct business in order to switch to a four-day workweek.

  • Fewer hours per day: Additionally, working a five-day workweek allows employees to work fewer hours per day, which can also help to create happier employees. Despite the fact that some employees do prefer a shorter workweek, others prefer a shorter workday.
business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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