Will America embrace a four-day workweek?

Existing in some shape or form for almost 100 years, perhaps it’s time for the five-day workweek to be eradicated. After all, the pandemic has disrupted the traditional work model, forcing many people to work from home for the first time. As a result, people have re-evaluated their priorities, spending more time with their family and friends and less time worried about their job. Flexibility has become workers’ top priority, and the four-day workweek would facilitate that.

A whopping 83% of American workers would prefer a four-day workweek, according to a May 2020 survey of 4,000 full-time employees by GoodHire. Millennials are most in favor (90%), while Gen Z is least interested (76%). That’s still a high percentage of the generation either currently in or soon to enter the workforce.

“It’s unlikely that the U.S. will embrace a four-day workweek within the next year because the U.S. is still struggling to embrace remote work,” says Mari Kemp, SVP of HR at San Francisco-based Ease, an online benefits enrollment system. “If there hadn’t been additional variants or spikes in COVID-19 cases, many companies would have demanded workers go back into the office, despite evidence that remote work doesn’t negatively impact productivity or revenue. The same employers that don’t trust employees to work remotely won’t trust their employees with a four-day workweek.”

While American workers shouldn’t hold their breath for a federal law to pass, companies that are considering the transition should be mindful of state regulations that may apply. California, for example, permits alternative workweek schedules, in which nonexempt employees can work more than eight hours in a day without incurring daily overtime. That’s ideal for businesses who’ve adopted the four-day workweek and have had employees extend their shifts to 10 hours to meet their goals.

Emtrain, a San Francisco-based workplace culture platform, instituted a four-day workweek as an experiment in August 2021. Founder and CEO Janine Yancey says the company is still analyzing employee sentiment and measuring productivity, as well as gauging how clients are responding.

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