Four-day week boosts employee well-being, reduces stress: New trial

London, Feb 21 (IANS): Working four days a week promotes employee well-being, reduces stress while preserving productivity, a six-month trial revealed.

According to the trial conducted by '4 Day Week Global' in conjunction with the UK's '4 Day Week Campaign', a four-day working week reveals significantly reduced rates of stress and illness in the workforce -- with 71 per cent of employees self-reporting lower levels of 'burnout', and 39 per cent saying they were less stressed, compared to the start of the trial.

In the UK, 61 organisations have committed to a 20 per cent reduction in working hours for all employees, with no wage reductions, for a six-month period beginning in June 2022.

In addition, the majority of businesses maintained full-time productivity targets.

Companies from across the UK took part, with around 2,900 employees dropping a day of work.

The trial participants ranged from online retailers and financial service providers to animation studios and a local fish-and-chip shop.

Consultancy, housing, IT, skincare, recruitment, hospitality, marketing, and healthcare are among the other industries represented.

Throughout the trial, researchers surveyed employees to assess the impact of having an extra day off.

Across workforces, self-reported levels of anxiety and fatigue decreased, while mental and physical health improved, the trial revealed.

Moreover, many survey respondents said they found it easier to balance work with both family and social commitments, with 60 per cent of employees found an increased ability to combine paid work with care responsibilities, and 62 per cent reported it easier to combine work with social life.

"Before the trial, many questioned whether we would see an increase in productivity to offset the reduction in working time - but this is exactly what we found," sociologist Prof Brendan Burchell, who led the University of Cambridge side of the research said.

"Many employees were very keen to find efficiency gains themselves. Long meetings with too many people were cut short or ditched completely. Workers were much less inclined to kill time, and actively sought out technologies that improved their productivity," he said.

Moreover, the trial found that there was a 65 per cent reduction in sick days, and a 57 per cent fall in the number of staff leaving participating companies, compared to the same period the previous year.

Company revenue barely changed during the trial period - even increasing marginally by 1.4 per cent on average.

According to a report of the findings presented to UK lawmakers, about 92 per cent of companies that participated in the UK pilot programme (56 out of 61) intend to keep the four-day work week, with 18 companies confirming the change as permanent.



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