(NEW YORK) — A pilot program that involved nearly 3,000 employees testing out a four-day workweek is giving new hope to those seeking to change the way people work.
Over 90% of the employees and 61 companies that took part in the pilot program supported keeping a four-day workweek, according to the program’s findings, which were published this month.
Companies also reported that both revenue and the retention rate of employees increased with the four-day workweek model, while a majority of employees said the model reduced burnout.
Around 15% of employees who took part in the pilot program reported that no amount of money could get them to accept returning to a five-day workweek, according to the findings.
The six-month pilot program, billed as the “world’s largest four-day working week trial to date,” took place in the United Kingdom.
It was organized by an advocacy group, 4 Day Week Global, that worked in collaboration with researchers at Boston College and the University of Cambridge.
Each company was allowed to design their own four-day workweek model, from taking Fridays off to working in more staggered schedules, according to 4 Day Week Global.
The group reported that the “most extensive benefits” of the four-day workweek pilot were seen in the mental and physical health of employees.
Employees reported less stress, less burnout and decreased levels of anxiety, fatigue and insomnia, while also reporting increased satisfaction with their relationships, finances and time management, according to the report.
The findings come on the heels of a Gallup survey released late last year that found 4 out of 10 workers in the United States reported their job had either a somewhat negative or extremely negative impact on their mental health.
Overall, the Gallup survey found almost 1 in 5 workers reported that their mental health was poor or fair, the two lowest ratings on the survey.
The four-day workweek pilot program’s findings also come as employees in the U.S. have experienced more flexibility than usual during the past three years of the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies now allow their employees to work fully remote or hybrid schedules, while others have already or are in the process of requiring employees to return to the office full-time.
What the findings of the U.K. pilot program on a four-day workweek could mean for workers in the U.S. remains to be seen, according to ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.
“The issue is culture, and you really have to change the culture of the overall work week in order to make these changes,” said Jarvis. “A lot of companies are very set in their ways. We saw big changes in the pandemic. There’s a chance they will go that way.”
A report released in November by consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP found that 40% of the U.S.-based companies it surveyed for its annual EY Future Workplace Index are either implementing a four-day workweek or have already begun using one.
The survey also found that 64% of executives surveyed said they believe “flexible working options motivate employees.”
Jarvis said the motivation employees feel could be what begins to shift the tide towards more companies experimenting with a four-day workweek.
“It really does feel like a bonus, and that’s the thing,” she said. “If you decide you’re going to work harder because you feel good, that’s a win for employers, so it is something they’re thinking about.”
For employees who want to ask for more flexibility in their current schedule, Jarvis said the first step is making sure your work stands out.
“You have to be a winner on the team and be a really good contributor to your overall work environment,” Jarvis said. “Talk to your boss about flexibility, see how you can incorporate it into your schedule. But go in after a big win. That’s your best time.”
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