Interest in the 4-day workweek grows as employers study the impact on employees, retention and productivity

Interest in the 4-day workweek grows as employers study the impact on employees, retention and productivity

Many dream of a shorter work week, where you spend less time in the office and more time with your loved ones, while still being able to afford life as we know it.

And for more people, it has become a reality.

Businesses and organizations in countries around the world face a four-day work week, a week that does not squeeze 40 hours into fewer days or pay workers less.

Companies in the UK are the latest to pilot four-day workweeks for 3,300 workers across sectors over the next six months.

In Iceland, the national government and Reykjavik City Council worked with unions to pilot a four-day work week for its employees over a four-year period starting in 2015. Researchers described the project as an “amazing success” and many workers now shift fewer hours.

Businesses in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere have also signed up to try their luck with the global nonprofit 4-day workweek, launched by the founders of the New Zealand estate planning firm that turned employees into a four-day week in 2018, and is now aimed at helping others see if it will work. With them.

It’s not a foreign concept in Canada either, as more bosses and owners realize its potential benefits, including healthier employees and lower turnover.

Employees of the Victoria Atchison law firm Sweeney Foley Sahuta are currently working four days a week, with no overtime for those days and no loss of wages. Partner Rajinder Sahuta launched a pilot program in the summer of 2021 to see how it would affect the work and personal lives of its employees — and he said it was a resounding success.

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He understands that some employers may be concerned about productivity, but he said there is no problem getting things done. He says his team is flexible in terms of working hours and always attends meetings and trials.

Sahota said business owners need to start changing the way they think about business.

He told CBC on the island Host Gregor Craig.

“We need to think of different ways to organize our social and economic system to prioritize the human element rather than this growing need for productivity.”

According to the 4-day workweek, 63% of the companies I worked with found it easier to attract and retain employees under the 4-day model.

“If people like their job, like the kind of work they do, the people they represent and the atmosphere in contrast Colleagues, I don’t think you need someone who constantly monitors and manages his or her time at work. »

In Thunder Bay, Ontario, the environmental nonprofit EcoSuperior recently transitioned to a four-day work week.

CEO Sue Hamill said the COVID-19 pandemic has made her reflect on how the organization can best serve the well-being of its employees.

“It’s not a measure of cost savings, it’s actually what I call a measure of improvement in value added through flexible hours,” said Hamel, who added that she has observed improvement in the mental and physical health of all employees, including himself.

Others in Canada attempt a four-day work week that includes the Toronto Driving Agency; Tulip Corporation, a software company from Kitchener, Ontario; and Guysborough County in Nova Scotia.

The pilot project in the UK involves workers and companies from several sectors. (Maggie Macpherson/CBC)

Broader benefits to society

Amanda Watson, a professor of sociology at Simon Fraser University who is particularly interested in the culture of capitalism, says the project that started in the UK goes back “a long time ago”.

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Watson was particularly pleased to see a restaurant included in this study, saying it was important to include already tight workers and poorer workers, rather than just office professionals.

She said giving people another day off would benefit society as a whole.

For example, she says, with an extra day off, if she needs to buy shorts in the summer, she can go to the thrift store or buy a used pair from a local company. Without that extra time, she’ll likely end up ordering online from a fast fashion company and having them shipped.

“If we had less time, we could actually live more according to our values,” she said.

Labor laws are socially constructed, Watson said, so there is no reason not to rewrite them in the name of a more modern society.

For this change to happen here in British Columbia, she said, workers will have to lead the change, companies will have to be flexible, and lawmakers will have to regulate the workweek.

In 2020, British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan said a four-day work week was “not out of place”.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Labor on Friday said that while there are currently no plans to make legislative changes that would require four working days a week, employers are certainly able to make these changes themselves.

first edition7:39New UK beta test 4 working days a week

Can a four-week working day start in British Columbia? Explains Amanda Watson, a lecturer in sociology and anthropology at SFU, specializing in labor and capitalism.

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