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How to Retain Talent As Thousands of Workers Trial the Four-Day Week

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The “4 Day Work Week” has had an average of 7.6k searches a month in the UK over the past 12 months – which begs the question, is this the new workplace perk? 

In 2021 workplaces across the UK suffered the Great Resignation – as the UK moved out of covid restrictions, many offices encouraged workers to return to office life and business as usual. But after two years of lockdown and remote working, the move wasn’t supported by everyone as employees sort to keep their new way of life or the preferred Hybrid way of working. When Employers pushed back, workers moved to companies that offered this new working style, and the Great Resignation occurred. 

Almost a year later, many offices have moved to a hybrid way of working to secure their talent, but the new buzzword is the “4 Day Work Week.” It was reported that 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies, ranging from a local chippy to large financial firms, are to start working a four-day week from Monday with no loss of pay – how will this impact the job market? Sonic Jobs investigates the pros and cons of a four-day work week and how will it impact employers looking for new talent in 2022. 

Several years ago, giving employees an extra day off each week for the same pay may have sounded impossible. But there’s no denying this trend is gaining traction: from New Zealand to Spain to the UK, the idea of a four-day work week has been increasing in popularity, especially when technology is increasing productivity and efficiency, and many employees feel burned out and exhausted.

Pros

  • Longer Hours Does Not Mean More Output: We’ve all got to the late afternoon on a Friday and mentally shut off from work, even when we have 4 hours left. The four-day week could encourage more productivity on the days in work
  • Increased Mental Wellbeing and Physical Health: Workers working fewer days a week report several positive side effects, from exercising more to taking up new skills or volunteering in the community. This, in turn, has a net positive impact on workers’ productivity at the office.
  • Better recruitment and retention: offering potential new and existing employees a flexible working pattern is a fantastic way of attracting and retaining talented professionals.

Cons

  • Workers may put in the same hours anyway: Will staff be encouraged to fit five days’ worth of work into four days, meaning long working hours and burnout? 
  • The Cost: Some professions have tasks that simply take more time than others, which would lead to paying more in overtime or drafting in additional staff to make up the shortfall, which would cost businesses more.
  • Workplace Inequality: Not all industries can participate as the four-day working week doesn’t suit all sectors. Some businesses or professions require a 24/7 presence which would make a shortened work week unpractical and, in some cases, delay work – creating longer lead times.

How do Businesses Compete with the Four-Day Week? 

Francesca Boccolini, Co-founder of Sonic Jobs, comments,

“Whilst the shortened work week has been a success in many European cities, it may not be for everyone. Which leads to the question, how can businesses compete for talent when rival companies offer a four-day week? Google has seen a 75% increase in searches for four-day week jobs between September 2021 and June 2022, the highest in five years as employees seek to implement this new way of working. Whilst a more flexible approach to working is now expected from employers, a less disruptive, more gradual process would be to offer a hybrid or flexible working policy instead. Focus on maintaining staff wellbeing, engagement, progression and morale and the talent will come to you.”

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