Easier said than done: how to implement a 4-day workweek

Lottie Bazley, Senior Advisor for Internal Strategic Communications at Staffbase explores…

As the 4-day workweek UK continues to grapple with a talent shortage, employees have more power over the job market than ever before. For example, while remote work during the pandemic has become a necessity for many, these days remote work alone is not enough to keep up with the competition. Instead, the dream of a shorter workweek is coming true.

Based on the recent UK pilot, a staggering nine out of 10 companies are willing to extend the four-day workweek policy beyond the initial six-month trial period. While the four-day workweek might seem like a simple concept, there are several barriers that keep it from becoming a reality.

From growing uncertainty amid economic pressures, to massive layoffs and widespread employee disengagement, there are many issues for companies to deal with today. Among all this, we must consider the internal communication strategies that are extremely important for this to happen. So what can companies do to ensure a smooth transition to a four-day workweek?

Set clear expectations

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult under any circumstances, but it becomes even more challenging in times of economic uncertainty and increased so-called silent layoffs.

In some cases, employees who work for four-day weeks may assume that they will produce the same level of work in a shorter period of time. This will lead to overtime in the evenings and weekends, pushing back the initial goal of improving work-life balance.

While remote work has taught employers to have a greater level of trust in their workforce, the important part of the puzzle for a four-day workweek is communicating with employees in an inclusive and structured way. Outlining clear parameters around these policies and ensuring employee engagement from day one will be key to making it a success.

Meet the needs of the workforce

Implementing a four-day workweek cannot be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. This requires being aware of the nuances of the workforce; whether it’s the lifestyles of employees who may be caregivers or parents, or the different needs of office and non-administrative workers; while still meeting customer needs.

To assess how best to implement change, internal communicators need to make sure they listen to employees from all backgrounds.

While regular one-on-one meetings are great for getting personal feedback from employees, conducting employee surveys will help make data-driven decisions. It will not only quantify issues, but also identify root causes and relay feedback in a timely manner. This ongoing feedback loop will be crucial to ensuring a smooth transition to a four-day workweek.

The power of multichannel

Since the pandemic, digital communications have become the backbone of effective internal communication strategies. To keep the workforce engaged, informed and connected during the transition to a four-day workweek, a multi-channel communication approach is critical.

For example, the introduction of an employee app for frontline employees who cannot be easily reached by email; implementation of intranet for administration employees; creating a communication channel in Microsoft Teams for project managers; or deploying digital signage in production rooms for factory workers – the possibilities are endless.

Over the past few decades, technology has dramatically transformed the way we work, proving that for some companies, the five-day week is no longer necessary.

If done right, a four-day workweek can be a real game-changer for a company – having a positive impact on employee well-being, reducing operating costs, increasing productivity, and ultimately building a stronger workforce. resilient.

While it’s still early days, recent tests around the world have proven that a four-day week could be on the way.

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