The workforce is changing rapidly and with that so does the desires in the workplace, especially work-life balance. The common worker factors in several aspects when choosing a place of employment, weighing concrete figures such as pay with traits of the organization such as transparency of communication, recognition, leadership style, and especially work-life balance.
The culture surrounding Americans’ perceptions of appropriate work-life balance has been debated for decades, with many pointing to the positive effects a shorter work week has shown in other countries, while others view the suggestion as an acceptance of laziness. So much so, that research done by The Harvard Business Review shows that employees who require workplace flexibility are often more likely to receive poor performance reviews and less likely to be promoted.
In 2021, many employers found themselves quickly losing employees during “The Great Resignation” as employees flocked to positions that better suited their lives. Data from Monster shows that 36% of workers have “thought about quitting their jobs several times a week,” and 24% of workers saying they are “miserable in their current positions and are actively searching for new work.”
Many of these workers cited mental health (24%) and lack of work-life balance (24%) as the main motivators to finding a new position, and 74% of all those looking for new work felt their employer didn’t prioritize their well-being.
A four-day workweek has shown to have several benefits. Research done by the Henley Business School in Greenlands, England shows that 78% of employees with a 4-day work week felt happier in their positions, 70% said that they are less stressed and 62% of employees called in sick less often, all while the companies remained revenue neutral.
The benefits of increased work-life balance transcend the workplace, with workers seeing the impact of increased time in personal matters in their home. Research done in Iceland after more than 86% of the total workforce decreased their hours shows that male workers (in heterosexual relationships) increased their duties at home and spent more time with their children, taking stress off the household as whole.
So why would anyone disagree with shortening the work week if it has proved so effective? Many of its opponents site concerns that the impact of the 4-day work week would be short-lived, and with so much effort being put into restructure businesses to a shorter work week, the costs may outweigh the benefit. Although fewer days would be worked, hours would remain, putting employees risk of making their days even more hectic. Finally, some industries such as logistics may simply not be able to conduct normal operations while working fewer days.
The impact a positive working culture can have on employees cannot be understated, and the benefits of improved work-life balance are clear while its opposition remains speculative. If employers want to continue to hire the best talent for their business, they must remain adaptable and empathic.
Does your organization provide a 4-day work week? We’d love to hear how it has effected your work-life balance!