Most British employers have decided to stick with a four-day working week after a pilot found campaigners to achieve a better work-life balance.
Employees at 61 companies across Britain worked an average of 34 hours over four days between June and December 2022, earning the current salary. Of these, 56 companies, or 92%, chose to continue as such, 18 of them permanently.
The trial is the largest in the world, according to Autonomy, a research organization based in Britain that published the report together with a group of academics and with the support of the group 4 Day Week Global based in New Zealand.
While the results may be interesting for companies struggling for talent, other surveys show that few other employers in Britain plan a four-day week early.
The Autonomy trial covered a total of 2,900 staff across a range of sectors, from financial company Stellar Asset Management to digital manufacturer Rivelin Robotics and a fish and chip shop in the seaside town of Wells-next-the-sea.
The majority agreed that productivity had been maintained.
Staff said their wellbeing and work-life balance had improved and data showed that employees were less likely to quit their jobs as a result of the four-day week policy.
“This is a big step forward for the movement towards a four-day work week,” Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said in a statement.
Paul Oliver, chief operating officer at Citizens’ Council Gateshead, said job retention and recruitment had improved and sickness levels had fallen during the trial.
“The team is doing more work in less time,” he said.
For some employees, the extra day off was more important than pay: 15% said no amount of money would bring them back to a five-day week. Some staff had Wednesday off, while others had a three-day weekend policy.
Employers from the marketing and advertising, professional services and charity sectors were most represented in the trial. About 66% of those participating had 25 or fewer employees, and 22% had 50 or more staff members. 11% were not for profit.
The trial shows increasing scrutiny of how people work, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people question whether they need to sit in an office for five days due to surge schemes and mandatory work-from-home periods. in the week.
In recent years, a number of global corporations have increasingly experimented with a four-day approach and have also reported successful results. Microsoft piloted it in Japan for a month in 2019 and consumer goods giant Unilever conducted a year-long trial in New Zealand in 2020.
However, corporate Britain as a whole does not seem keen.
When the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which represents human resources professionals, surveyed members last year, it found that very few employers expect to move to a four-day week in the next three years.
Two thirds expected no change in the next ten years.
However, evidence that it helped retain staff could be powerful for companies that have struggled to recruit workers since the pandemic. Britain has the additional difficulty of leaving the European Union.
“That should give us a competitive advantage,” a senior manager at an insurance firm said at trial about evidence that workers were kept from a four-day week.