Okay, there probably aren’t a lot of people who need to be convinced that a shorter workweek is a great idea. Small business owners, however, might be on the list of people who need a little encouraging. After all, every day they take off could mean a longer day to make up for the missed hours.
There are some very real benefits to working a shorter week and those benefits aren’t just about the long weekends—though who would complain about those?
Here are some great reasons to consider shortening your workweek.
Your employees will love you for it
In 2018, Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand allowed its employees to work four regular workdays instead of the usual five. The employees kept their regular salary and weren’t required to lengthen their other days. The experiment lasted for eight weeks and at the end, the company found that employees reported lower stress levels, improved job performance, increased work engagement, and a better work-life balance.
The key? With a shorter workweek, employees were more careful about how they managed their time. Meetings tended to be shorter and workers were careful to keep noise and disruption to a minimum, to allow other workers to also get their tasks done.
Perpetual Guardian now makes the four-day week a permanent option for its full-time workers.
It attracts talent
If you’re looking to hire only the best employees—and who isn’t—what could be more attractive than earning a decent wage while working fewer hours? Offering an extra day off a week is sure to attract the attention of highly skilled workers without breaking your bank.
It can save you money
If you’re not already offering a shorter week, consider it in place of a raise for employees. It saves you money, makes workers feel valued, and will improve employee morale and satisfaction. Some may even prefer it to a raise.
In an ideal world, you could pay your employees the same while giving them a shorter workweek. Your company may not be able to afford that, but some employees might gladly take a pay cut to have an extra day off a week.
If you want to offer a shorter workweek but can’t afford to keep the pay the same, give your employees a choice.
If moving to a shorter workweek permanently isn’t practical for you, there are still ways to give employees extra time off. You could run summer hours, where every Friday in the summer people leave early, or every weekend people take a Friday or Monday off. Or you could give employees the option of choosing what day to leave early. You could consider having every second week throughout the year be a flex week.
If you really can’t give up the hours, offer your employees a compressed workweek or see if your business is set up to allow working from home one day a week. Cutting out that commute saves them time.
Or you could be like some companies—including Netflix and Groupon—and offer unlimited vacation days.
Study after study has found numerous benefits to shorter workweeks, with none of the drawbacks that business owners often fear.
Offering a shorter workweek won’t prevent staff from doing their work, it’ll encourage them to do the same work in less time—provided, of course, each person isn’t already doing the work of two people.