06 Jun Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek for Employers
in Time & Attendance
Imagine receiving 429 applications for one job opening, even though you require 14-hour shifts. Imagine increased productivity from your team while reducing turnover. This is exactly what happened to Justin Lindsey, owner-operator of Chick-fil-A Kendall in Florida. He’s taken the idea of a 4-Day workweek one step further and created a three-day workweek for his staff.
If you thought offering a 4-day workweek was only for white-collar jobs, you might be surprised how restaurants and other in-person businesses can benefit. Both studies and real-world businesses show that a 4-day workweek can greatly ease recruiting employees and retaining them, all without hurting your bottom line. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t pitfalls to avoid.
Pros of a 4-Day Workweek
Studies have shown that employees who work a 4-day workweek are more productive than those who work five days a week. This is because the extra day off allows employees to recharge their batteries and return to work with renewed energy and focus.
Improved Employee Physical and Mental Health
A 4-day workweek can improve the physical and mental health of employees. It reduces the likelihood of burnout, stress, and exhaustion, which are major contributors to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety.
A 2022 study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Boston College of 2,900 workers at 61 companies in various industries found employees reported being 71% less burned out, 39% less stressed, and 48% more satisfied with their job than before the trial.
Another study, this one conducted by “4 Day Week Global,” a nonprofit organization, had 33 companies participate. 969 employees adopted a four-day workweek in a pilot program over a six-month period. The study found that
- Revenue among the participating companies rose 8.14%, and when compared to the same period as the previous year
- Employees’ physical exercise increased by about 23 minutes per week
- Reported sleep problems decreased by 8%
Increased Employee Retention
A 4-day workweek allows employees to have a better work-life balance. They can use the extra day off to pursue hobbies, spend time with family and friends, or simply relax and recharge. This leads to happier employees, which in turn, can lead to increased job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.
For all those who participated in the University of Cambridge and Boston College trial, employees quitting was down 57% compared with the same period a year earlier. Sick days were also reduced by 65% from a year ago.
Reduced Commute Time and Costs
A 4-day work week can reduce commute time and costs for employees. Fewer days of commuting mean less time and money spent on transportation, which can lead to a better quality of life for employees.
A 4-day workweek can also have environmental benefits. Fewer days of commuting mean less traffic and pollution, which can have a positive impact on the environment.
Cons of a 4-Day Workweek
The main disadvantage of a 4-day workweek is that employees may have to work longer hours to make up for the lost day. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout, which can negate the benefits of having an extra day off. This can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis per employee, as overall studies show most employees prefer fewer workdays, even if they are longer days.
A 4-day workweek can be difficult to coordinate, especially for companies that operate on a five-day workweek. It can be challenging to schedule meetings and coordinate projects when employees are on different schedules.
Difficulty with Customer Service
A 4-day workweek can also be challenging for companies that provide customer service. Customers may expect businesses to be open five days a week, and a 4-day workweek may lead to dissatisfaction and lost business. Implementing rotating staff can ameliorate this issue.
Implementing a 4-day workweek can be a challenging process. Companies need to ensure that they have enough staff to cover the work that needs to be done, and they need to ensure that their employees are properly trained and prepared for the change.
How a Chick-fil-A Restaurant Implements and Benefits from a Shorter Workweek
Justin Lindsey, owner-operator of Chick-fil-A Kendall in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has created a three-day workweek program for his staff. The program’s design aims to improve employee work-life balance, which includes creating more consistency and predictability in scheduling, reducing time spent commuting, and more days off.
Lindsey’s program works by splitting the team into two “pods” that rotate between three-day blocks of 13 to 14-hour shifts. The two pods communicate through a script that lists everything that occurred during the last three days. The three-day workweek is primarily for full-time staff who work 40 hours a week, split between three days. Lindsey says the shorter workweek has reduced their employee turnover rate and led to high retention levels.
Within one week of posting a job for a full-time team member, they received 429 job applications. The program has helped the business become more consistent in terms of staffing, which was not possible under the previous scheduling system. Additionally, employees now work only two Saturdays a month.
The shorter workweek exposes the good and the bad in terms of employee performance. The program has been successful in improving the work-life balance for staff and increasing job satisfaction, attracting high-quality job applicants, and retaining good employees.
To learn more about Chick-fil-A’s hiring philosophy and how it might apply to your business, see our video with Steve Robinson, former Chief Marketing Officer of Chick-fil-A.
How Hospitality Companies Benefit From a 4-Day Workweek
PBS interviewed Kirsty Wainwright, general manager of a casual restaurant in a small town. Kirsty remarked about the 4-day workweek, “Everyone is focused, everyone knows what they’re doing, everyone is refreshed. What it means is that [employees] come to work with a better frame of mind and pass that on to obviously the clients and the public that are coming here for their meals. They’re getting a greater service because the team [is] more engaged.”
Justin Lindsey, owner-operator of a Chick-fil-A, has seen firsthand how a shorter workweek has benefited his business. “I was talking to one of our managers who just graduated from the University of Central Florida. Now she’s going to be pursuing a master’s degree. She just poured her heart out and told me point blank that there’s no way she would have been able to graduate if she was working the traditional five-day schedule. “That opened my eyes to thinking, wow, what if we had not done this? Would she actually still be one of my key managers?”
Of the 61 companies participating in the 4-day workweek trial conducted by the University of Cambridge and Boston College, 92% reported they would continue with the four-day workweek. Restaurant General Manager Kirsty Wainwright sums up the 4-day work week, “Productivity has gone through the roof.”
This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.