‘Four-day week could save UK £104bn a year’

New research from Henley Business School shows a four-day week on full pay could save money, boost productivity and reduce businesses’ carbon footprint.

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A four-day working week could save UK businesses an estimated £104 billion annually, according to new research from Henley Business School.

The research reveals how a shorter working week (on full pay) could add to businesses’ bottom lines through increased staff productivity and an uplift in staff physical and mental health, whilst also resulting in a cleaner environmental footprint.

The ‘Four Better or Four Worse?’ white paper found that of over 250 businesses who have already adopted a four-day working week, nearly two-thirds (64%) have reported improvements in staff productivity. It also increased overall quality of life for employees, with over three quarters (78%) of implementing businesses saying staff were happier, less stressed (70%) and took fewer days off ill (62%). Almost two thirds (63%) of employers said that providing a four-day working week has helped them to attract and retain talent.

The research of over 500 business leaders and 2,000 employees also showed that 40% of employees would use the extra day in the week to up-skill or develop professional skills and a quarter said they would use it to volunteer.

Over a third of business leaders surveyed (34%), and nearly half (46%) of those in larger businesses, say making the switch to a four-day working week will be important for future business success.

Nearly three quarters of workers (72%) say a four-day week is an attractive proposition and would attract them to an employer. This rose to two thirds for Gen Z workers.

The research shows a four-day week would also be positive for the environment as employees estimate they would drive 557.8 million fewer miles per week on average, leading to fewer transport emissions.

Despite the financial, environmental and wellbeing advantages, nearly three quarters (73%) of employers cite concerns around taking up the change, with client and customer servicing and the need to be available, noted as the main barrier for 82% of businesses.

While the majority of workers would opt for a four-day working week, nearly half (45%) would worry about being perceived as lazy by coworkers and a third (35%) would be concerned if they had to hand over their work to colleagues.

The research is based on opinions from across the business world, including over 250 businesses who currently operate with a four-day working week.

Professor Karen Jansen, Professor of Leadership and Change at Henley Business School, says: “Today’s challenge with implementing the four-day working week and other flexible work arrangements lies in the heritage of the term. Flexible work arrangements have historically been viewed as ‘special’ or stigmatised and led by organisations, but our White Paper shows views are changing. Individuals are now the ones pushing for a broader view of flexibility as better and smarter ways of working.”

 



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