New research launching today has found that a four-day working week with Friday off isn’t yet feasible for most businesses. However, a mid-week break on Wednesday afternoon would be both more realistic and more effective in terms of boosting employee productivity*.
Despite the flurry of companies that have recently launched a four-day week by giving their employees Friday off, less than half of businesses think their company would benefit if their employees had 3-day weekends. Meanwhile, others (50 per cent) simply do not think a four-day week will work in practice at the moment. This mirrors what we have seen so far from early adopters of the four-day week, many of whom have rolled it out at the expense of lunch breaks or annual leave.
Rosie Warin, CEO of behaviour change company Kin&Co said,
There are many types of alternative shorter week – the six hour day, the four day week – but from the data, the psychology and our own practical trial, we strongly believe that the Wednesday Off-ternoon is not only the most beneficial for employees, but also the most practical and accessible option to businesses today. With 70 per cent of companies ready to trial the Wednesday Off-ternoon immediately, we expect this trend to sweep the UK.
The research found that three-quarters of business owners notice a significant dip in their employees’ energy levels mid-week. 90 per cent of businesses are actively looking for ways to improve productivity in their organisation, while 80 per cent believe giving Wednesday afternoon off would boost employee productivity. Because of these benefits, 70 per cent of business owners would consider trialing a Wednesday Off-ternoon immediately. This is compared to just over half for a 4-day week.
Dr. Gail Kinman, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology and expert in work-life balance, commented:
Stress in the workplace and poor work-life balance are serious problems for British businesses, with millions of hours lost to stress-related illness every year. The Wednesday ‘Off-ternoon’ has the potential to be revolutionary for the UK economy – particularly given how well Wednesday afternoon off has worked for the education sector. By helping employees to switch off mid week and have a chance to rest or focus on personal interests, they are far more likely to recover mentally and physically, return to work more productive and have lower stress levels in the long term.
The mid-week slump is a trend the education sector recognised years ago and it is why many schools, colleges and universities offer sports options or hours free from lessons on Wednesday afternoons to help pupils recharge. The majority of primary schools in France and the Netherlands already give Wednesday afternoon off, while 2016’s Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free (KWAF) campaign still actively runs on university campuses across the UK today.
Jhanvi Gudka, senior project manager at Kin&Co, said,
We’re all about doing things differently at Kin&Co – from our value of ‘staying playful (because why shouldn’t work be fun) to hosting our team away day at a festival. The Wednesday Off-ternoon started as a one-off idea, but as soon as we started enforcing it we realised how much it transformed our culture. Energy levels on a Thursday are now at their highest – and staff continually refer to it as the best thing about working at the company.
*By Kin&Co, the research was conducted amongst 200 HR professionals in November 2018.