Survey finds 40% of Kiwis expect a four-day work week within five years

Some 40 percent of survey respondents believe the four-day work week could become a reality within the next five years and a further 21 percent think it will take up to a decade to come into effect, according to a poll of almost 42,000 professionals by recruitment and workforce firm, Hays,

However, 16 percent believe a four-day work week could be a reality within the next 12 months. The final 23 percent believe it will never materialise.

A statement from Hays says this follows the success of Unilever’s New Zealand four-day work week trial, which ran from 1 December 2020 to 30 June 2022. It found work-life balance, wellbeing and feelings of strength and vigour at work all improved. Unilever has since extended the trial to Australia. 

Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand, says the four-day work week has been a topic of discussion for several years, but the pandemic shifted the way we work and now many professionals continue to prize flexibility.

“Proponents argue a four-day work week can boost productivity, improve employee morale and wellbeing, and reduce stress and burnout. At a time of talent shortages, it can also aid candidate attraction, engagement and retention.” 

He says, however, there are also concerns about the practicalities.

“Many employers worry that a shorter work week could lead to decreased productivity, increased labour costs in organisations that require staff onsite five days a week and increased pressure on staff to meet current outcomes in fewer hours. 

“Despite this, it seems that many workers are optimistic about the prospect of a four-day working week becoming a reality. As organisations continue to experiment with different working patterns, it will be interesting to see if this optimism is justified and whether the four-day work week will become more widely adopted in the years ahead.”

Hays says that  100-80-100 principle was developed by 4 Day Week Global and holds that employees receive 100 percent pay for 80 percent time and 100 percent of productivity targets achieved. It’s the main framework used by organisations when trialling or adopting a four-day work week.  

 Hays says there are four main variations of how this can be implemented:

  • All work stops on day five and an organisation shuts down entirely for one extra day a week.
  • Teams or individual staff members stagger their days off.
  • Different departments adopt different work patterns, such as shorter days worked across all five days.
  • Hours are seasonally adjusted, with staff working 32 hours on average per week across the year.

Lessons from abroad

A separate Hays survey in the UK of over 9,600 respondents found five percent of organisations have introduced, or are trialling, a four-day work week and nine percent are considering it. Over half (53 percent) of the professionals surveyed would consider moving jobs for this working pattern.

Hays says a UK trial involving 60 organisations and almost 3,000 workers found revenue, employee health and wellbeing and job satisfaction all rose, while absenteeism, turnover, stress, burnout and fatigue declined. Almost every organisation in the trial plans to continue with a four-day week.  

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