April 17, 2024

The majority of the companies participating in a four-day workweek pilot program in the UK said they had seen no loss of productivity during the experiment, and in some cases had seen a significant improvement, according to an updated survey of participants.
Many companies are already ramping up investment in the health of their employees by offering workplace health and wellness (H&W) programs to staff. (UBS)
Roughly halfway into the six-month trial, in which employees at 73 companies get a paid day off weekly, 35 of the 41 companies that responded to a survey said they were “likely” or “extremely likely” to consider continuing the four-day work week beyond the end of the trial in late November, according to the New York Times. All but two of the 41 companies said productivity was either the same or had improved. Remarkably, six companies said productivity had significantly improved.
Some of the findings from the trial showed the four-day week had given employees more time to exercise, cook, spend time with their families and take up hobbies, boosting their well-being and making them more energized and productive when they were on the clock.
The program is being run by the nonprofit organization 4 Day Week Global; Autonomy, a think tank; and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, in partnership with researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
Experiments similar to the one conducted in Britain are being conducted in other countries too, mostly in the private sector, including in the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. In a trial in Gothenburg, Sweden, officials found employees completed the same amount of work or even more.
Calls to shorten the working week have gathered steam in recent years. In several countries, millions of employees switched to remote work during the pandemic. This has led both employers and employees to rethink the traditional work model, with calls and support for greater flexibility.
The movement is driven in part by the idea that it can be beneficial for both employees and employers – happier, more rested employees are more productive employees. And with the UK experiment underway, we should soon have more data on that premise.
Meanwhile, many companies are already ramping up investment in the health of their employees by offering workplace health and wellness (H&W) programs to staff. Often times, researchers measure the impact new working patterns have on productivity levels, workplace equality, the environment as well as worker well-being.
UBS is studying these trends. In the report, Executives & Entrepreneurs – Health and well-being: invest in your employees, our analysts looked some of the evidence in support of H&W programs’ benefits, as well as some of the pitfalls.
Some of the highlights include:
The report suggests that an employee health program is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of having a productive and engaged workforce. UBS expects more and more employers to broaden their offering to include holistic employee wellness programs to help employees manage their own health and well-being.
It’s probably safe to say many (if not all!) employees would love a 4-day work week and more wellness benefits. Greater focus on health and wellness could be a win-win, with gains for both employees and their companies.
Main contributor: Joe Melvin
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