Professor John Ashton, the former president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, has recently stated that the problem with the working world is that ‘you've got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven't got jobs’.
In light of this, he has advised that we should be moving towards a four-day working week.
While a four-day working week could have significant benefits to our health, productivity and creating jobs, a reduction in working hours has its financial implications.
As such, eight out of 10 British employees would not favour accepting a reduction in working hours if it resulted in lower wages.
So, this brings to question, should a four-day working week result in lower salaries?
Working within senior level recruitment, this has been a relevant topic of discussion with our clients and our candidates as of late. In this notion, we conducted research within our network asking for their thoughts on the matter.
77% of our participants believed that a four-day working week shouldn’t result in lower salaries. Research has shown that working fewer hours boosts productivity levels. In this way, they may feel more fulfilled with their work life balance, subsequently leading to increased focus when in the workplace. If an individual can complete the same level of work during a 4-day week as they would in a 5-day week, does that mean they should get a lower salary, even though they have reduced hours?
Well, 19% of our voters do in fact maintain that reduced hours should result in a lower salary regardless, and 3% were unsure. However, this may not be as black and white as we first thought. Unfortunately, the four-day working week model does not suit every sector. Some businesses or professions require a 24/7 presence, for example a nurse. This would make a 4-day week unpractical, and in some cases, impossible.
Furthermore, we received direct feedback from participants arguing that employees who are expected to still work 35 hours, but across 4 days may notice a decrease in their engagement, mental health, and overall happiness.
A shorted week has been an overwhelming success in many European countries and has worked for some UK businesses, so there is no doubt a huge advantage to a 4-day working week. Nevertheless, it is an extreme approach. Perhaps adopting a hybrid model would be more gradual and may be the way forward to help protect the wellbeing of employees.
Due to the pandemic, people across the country have already experienced huge upheaval in the last year and a half, personally and professionally. Disrupting the status quo of a 5-day week could have an impact on company culture, support, salary and more. As a final thought, do you think a 4-day working week would be too disruptive?
If you would like to discuss any of the above, please do get in touch: www.finitas.co.uk
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