England bosses wanted a four-day week in the world’s biggest test

  • Nine out of 10 companies tested stick to the four-day week
  • Companies claim that employees are doing more in less time
  • The four-day week is gaining appeal, but some companies are still pushing back

London, Feb. 21 (Reuters) – Dozens of British employers trialling a four-day working week have largely decided to stick with it, after a pilot hailed as a breakthrough by campaigners for a better work-life balance.

Employees in 61 companies across Britain worked an average of 34 hours over four days between June and December 2022. Of these, 56 companies, i.e. 92%, intend to continue doing so, 18 of them permanently.

It’s an investigation Biggest in the worldAccording to Autonomy, the British-based research firm published the report in collaboration with a group of academics and supported by New Zealand-based group 4 Day Week Global.

While the findings are interesting for companies struggling for talent, other surveys show that few British employers are planning a four-day week soon.

The autonomous trial covers a total of 2,900 employees across industries ranging from financial firm Stellar Asset Management to digital manufacturer Revelin Robotics.

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The majority agreed productivity was maintained.

While data showed that employees were significantly less likely to quit their jobs as a result of the four-day week policy, employees reported an improvement in their well-being and work-life balance.

“This is a major turning point for the movement towards a four-day work week,” Joe Ryle, director of the 4-Day Week Campaign, said in a statement.

‘More work done in less time’

Paul Oliver, chief operating officer of Citizens Advice Gateshead, said job retention and recruitment had improved and sickness rates had fallen during the trial.

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“Employees are doing more work in less time,” he said.

For some employees, an extra day off is more important than pay: 15% said no amount of money would tempt them back to a five-day week. Some employees had Wednesdays off, while others had a three-day weekend policy.

Employers from the marketing and advertising, professional services and charity sectors were heavily represented in the test. 66% of participants had 25 or fewer employees, and 22% had 50 or more employees. 11% not for profit.

The test reflects growing scrutiny of how people work, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted many to question whether furlough programs and mandatory work-from-home periods are worth sitting in the office five days a week.

In recent years, some large global corporates have tested the four-day approach and reported successful results. Microsoft ( MSFT.O ) did a month-long pilot in Japan in 2019, while consumer goods company Unilever ( ULVR.L ) conducted a year-long trial in New Zealand in 2020.

However, corporate Britain was generally uninterested.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), while representing HR professionals, Surveyed members last yearVery few employers expect to switch to a four-day week in the next three years.

Two-thirds expect no change over the next decade.

However, evidence that it helped retain employees could prove powerful for companies struggling to recruit workers after the pandemic. An additional complication is Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“It should give us a competitive advantage,” said a senior manager of an insurance company at the hearing, referring to evidence that workers were retained from the four-day week.

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Report by Sarah Young; Additional reporting by David Milligan Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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