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Interested in MBA Courses? 3 reasons the 4-day work week may be the future of business

July 02, 2019

Win-Win for employers and employees

Picture of former mba university students walking down the hall
First 6 days, then 5 days - now the time has come for the 4 days workweek.

In 1916, the Ford Motor Company became the first major company to switch from a 6-day to 5-day workweek and since then the 5-day workweek has become standard across much of the world. Now, some experts - including many business leaders - say that the time has come to switch to a 4-day workweek.

In fact, a number of forward-thinking companies are seeing significant benefits both for employers and employees through 4-day workweeks. Here’s a look at 3 reasons the 4-day workweek may be the future of business.

1. Businesses that switch to a 4-day workweek see a jump in productivity

Some businesses understandably fear that fewer working hours will mean a drop in production. However, it turns out that the exact opposite is true. Instead, reducing working hours leads to an increase in production. Pursuit Marketing in Glasgow, for example, saw a 30% increase in productivity and Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand saw a 20% increase when they switched to a 4-day workweek.

That’s not entirely surprising when you consider how people currently spend their working hours. According to one UK study, the average office worker only spends 2 hours and 53 minutes of their 8-hour day actually working, with most of the rest spent on distractions. That suggests that employers are wasting money through 40-hour workweeks, when they could get the same (or even better) productivity with a shorter workweek. In fact, the very reason Henry Ford instituted the 5-day workweek in 1916 was because it increased productivity.

A mba university student enjoying free time
A shorter workweek could increase productivity in the office.

2. A 4-day workweek can improve employee satisfaction and retention

Retaining productive employees is a top goal for many companies and one of the topics you will study in your MBA courses is best practices for recruiting and managing people. The cost of replacing an employee is about 150% the cost of their salary. Given that 50% of Millennials plan on leaving their current workplace within the next year, businesses are suffering by losing productive employees and training new ones. Perhaps surprisingly, wanting a higher salary is only the fifth-leading reason for why people leave their jobs. Lack of opportunities for advancement, dissatisfaction with management’s leadership, workplace culture, and lack of challenging work were all more popular reasons for the high turnover rate. Many of those issues can be addressed through a shorter workweek.

In the case of Perpetual Guardian, for example, employee work/life balance increased from 54% to 78%, levels of empowerment increased from 66% to 86%, and staff stress levels decreased from 45% to 38% after the switch to a 4-day workweek. Employees were also more willing to take on leadership roles and felt more stimulated by their work. This helped increase retention rates and employee satisfaction.

Former mba university students embracing the 4 day workweek
Employee engagement and retention can both be improved with a 4-day workweek.

3. After your MBA courses, a 4-day workweek can help your company lead on gender equality

As part of your Masters in Business Administration, you’ll learn how to institute visionary leadership in your organization, create the conditions that allow companies to attract top talent, and learn how to keep teams working their best. One of the perhaps surprising ways the 4-day workweek can help you do all that is through how it addresses gender inequality, especially for working mothers.

Today, mothers returning from maternity leave often work fewer hours in order to take care of their children. Many new mothers also lose out on full-time opportunities because of the difficulty with finding childcare for five days of the week. As a result, despite remaining just as productive as their colleagues who are working longer hours, they end up getting paid less. More flexible working arrangements make the challenge of childcare more manageable, thus allowing new mothers to work the same number of hours as their colleagues and get paid the same rate. For companies, this also means they can attract a broader pool of top talent, thus ensuring they remain competitive and successful.


Do you want to take your career to the next level?

Contact WU Executive Academy to learn about our MBA university.

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