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Topics: Civilization, COVID-19, Democracy, Economics, Education, Existentialism
Working four days instead of five—with the same pay—leads to improved well-being among employees without damaging the company’s productivity. That’s the recently reported result of a four-day workweek test that ran for six months, from June to December 2022 and involved a total of 61 U.K. companies with a combined workforce of about 2,900 employees.
During the COVID pandemic, many workers experienced increased stress and even burnout, a state of exhaustion that can make it difficult to meet work goals. “It’s a very huge issue,” says independent organizational psychologist and consultant Michael Leiter, who was not involved in the new report. “You see it, particularly in health care, where I do much of my work. It’s making it much more difficult to hold on to talented people.” He explains that stress in the workplace makes it difficult for companies in health care and many other fields to recruit new hires and keep existing employees. But greater awareness of burnout and related issues can have a positive effect, Leiter adds. “People are demanding more changes in how the work is organized,” he says.
That demand is what led the independent research organization Autonomy, in conjunction with the advocacy groups 4 Day Week Global and 4 Day Week Campaign and researchers at the University of Cambridge, Boston College, and other institutions, to publish a report on what happens when companies reduce the number of days in a workweek. According to surveys of participants, 71 percent of respondents reported lower levels of burnout, and 39 percent reported being less stressed than when they began the test. Companies experienced 65 percent fewer sick and personal days. And the number of resignations dropped by more than half compared with an earlier six-month period. Despite employees logging fewer work hours, companies’ revenues barely changed during the test period. In fact, they actually increased slightly, by 1.4 percent on average.
A Four-Day Workweek Reduces Stress without Hurting Productivity, Jan Dönges, Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American