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Nowadays many employees feel that traditional working week is increasingly taking over the lives of individuals (Victoria University of Wellington, 2003). Moreover, according to Dr. John Asthon (2014) in today’s world most families either have a single parent or both parents working so they cannot give enough time to their children and family, this may results in cause anxiety, stress and disturb life. Therefore many research has been done to find a solution to this issue. One solution that has been proposed is a four-day working schedule instead of the traditional five. So, the purpose of this essay is explaining the benefits and limitations of the four-day working schedule on society and how it can solve the aforementioned problem.
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Four days working week schedule is not a novel idea but it has been adopted by many countries like Germany, Netherland, and Denmark (Zapier, 2018). In fact, New Zealand has also decide to join the movement. In the months of 2018, a company in New Zealand named Perpetual Guardian, a company that offers estates and trust planning in New Zealand, runs on the schedule of four days working week. The trial showed increased benefits and Perpetual Guardian had decided to adopt it permanently (Perpetual Guardian, 2018).
The four days working week is also known as 4/40 because it compresses the 40 working hours in 4 days, which means the employees can work up to 10 hours per day. With this policy, employees will work for 4 days and get 3 days weekends (Hyland, Rowsome & Rowsome, 2005). The concept of working four-days in a week is practiced in many workplaces (Gannon, 1974), which begs the question – What are the benefits to 4/40 ?
Effect on Productivity
Research has shown that after the adoption of four days working schedule, productivity either increases or remains steady. As employees ”generated two extra billable hours a week” compared to those who work on five days work week (Slowik, 2010, p. 19). According to Andrew Barnes, the founder of perpetual guardian Perpetual Guardian, the four-day week has increased the employee’s productivity by 20% after adopting it permanently (Perpetual Guardian, 2019).
Andrew Barnes also claims that Giving employees sufficient time to think about how they can work differently, and encourage them to come up with their own measure of productivity are two key components. Moreover, team leader or managers should encourage staff to consider how they can organize time off within teams while still meeting customer and business imperatives. This is how the concept of four days working schedule can be helpful to maintain the productivity of an organization (Perpetual Guardian, 2019).
Effects on Job Satisfaction
West, Condrey, and Rush (2010), reported increased employee morale in which enhanced employment recruitment and retention possibilities. This shows that four-day working schedule has a good impact on job satisfaction. The study also shows that employees were more refreshed and as a result delivered better services to the clients and customers. Furthermore, the problems of hypertension, stress and high blood pressure reduced in employees after the implementation of four-day working schedule at their workplace (Business Tech, 2014).
Furthermore a study done by Labbs (1993) showed that 66% of participants would rather work for 10 hours a day and four days in week compared to the traditional five days working week. It is more popular among those between the age group of 35 to 45 years old compared to youngsters. This suggests a four-day working week can be used as a tool to improve the job satisfaction of employees.
Effects on Work-Life Balance
The four-days working schedule is helpful to improve the work-life balance of employees. Which is thought to tie into job-satisfaction and productivity (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2010)
Dr. Helen Delaney of University of Auckland Business School, and Professor Jarrod Haar of Auckland University of Technology (2019)– conducted a trail of 4-day working week to study its effect on staff. They found that switching to a 4-day work week saw immediate results in terms of the workers’ life satisfaction and mental health. For example, before the trial at Perpetual Guardian, only 54% of the company’s staff expressed an ability to balance work and home life. Meanwhile, 78% of them felt they were able to achieve that after the trial. Moreover the staff’s stress levels decreased by 7%, and their overall engagement, commitment, stimulation, and feeling of empowering saw significant increases as well.
Limitations of Four-Days Work Week
The many benefits come along with some drawbacks. First, the four-day workweek does not work for every business and is certainly not for every employee. If customers expect people to be available five days a week, then having an employee who is unavailable every Friday could cause problems.
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A four-day workweek can also make childcare more difficult. Many daycares and after-school care programs function around the idea that a parent works on an 8 am to 5 pm type schedule. They do not open at 6 am or stay open until 8 pm to accommodate a parent’s unusual schedule. So it has negative effect on family schedule.
A four-day week means that the working days have to be prolonged to up to 10 hours so that it will atone for the time misplaced by means of the day off. This could affect employee safety, depending on the type of industry. This is due to the fact longer hours may result in worker fatigue, which in turn could cause the quantity of work-associated injuries to increase. This is more likely for heavy machinery operators than for sedentary workplace workers.
Moreover, it will create a problem of overlapping shifts due to 10-hours working shifts for those who work for 24/7 industries. For example, to cover a 24 hours an employee would have to cover three 10 hour shift which means the shift is overlapped. Hence, for most of the 24/7 work operations, four day work week does not suit as it disturbs the entire work schedule.
In conclusion, the four-day working schedule is perfect for today’s busy society as it improves the productivity of an organization, It maintains job satisfaction and also improves the quality of life of employees. It also helpful to maintain work and life balance. The overall impact of four days working schedule is beneficial for today’s working society. Four days working schedule does have some disadvantages or limitations such as jeopardizing customer satisfaction, affecting family schedule, increased fatigue in some industries and not being applicable to the organizations that operate for 24/7. Therefore, more research needs to be done to find a way to overcome these difficulties so that everybody can benefit from the four-day working schedule.
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