The Case for a Four-day Workweek?
19 September 2018
According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight countries, 45 percent of full-time workers say it should take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted.
The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace has launched a series examining how employees across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. view their relationship with work.
Part one, “The Case for a 4-Day Workweek?” explores how employees spend their time while on the clock and if the standard 40-hour workweek is most effective. To follow are some interesting results from the study:
The 40-hour conundrum: Workers say they have enough time, yet many still work OT
- Even though 75 percent of full-time employees globally say that they have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks, nearly two in five (37 percent) work more than 40 hours each week and 71 percent claim work interferes with their personal lives.
- Full-time employees in the UK are the second strongest (34 percent) to feel that they do not have enough time in the day to get the job done, yet they do not work the most hours. The U.S. leads the way with overtime, as 49 percent clock more than 40 hours each week, followed by India (44 percent), Mexico (40 percent), and Germany (38 percent).
- If given more time in the workday, one in four workers (28 percent of individual contributors; 24 percent of people managers) would simply catch up on their work.
The case for a four-day workweek? Three-quarters of workers crave a longer weekend
- If pay remained constant, one third of global workers say their ideal workweek would last four days (34 percent), while 20 percent said they would work three days a week. One in four global employees (28 percent) are content with the standard five-day workweek.
- However, full-time workers in the UK desire a three-day workweek the most (26 percent) and the UK is one of the least content (16 percent) with the standard five-day workweek.
- One-third of employees (35 percent) would take a 20 percent pay-cut to work one day less per week
Time (well) spent: Unrelated activity, administrative work impact biggest daily tasks
- Nearly nine out of 10 employees (86 percent) say they lose time each day on work-specific tasks unrelated to their core job, with 41 percent of full-time employees wasting more than an hour a day on these extraneous activities. Additionally, 40 percent of employees say they lose an hour-plus each day on administrative tasks that do not drive value for their organisation.
- When asked what they spend the majority of their workday doing, individual contributors (56 percent) and people managers (28 percent) both listed servicing customers/patients/students as their top task.
- The next highest-rated workday tasks for individual contributors include collaborating with co-workers (42 percent), administrative work (35 percent), manual labour (33 percent), and responding to emails (31 percent), while people managers list attending meetings (27 percent), administrative work (27 percent), collaborating with co-workers (26 percent), and responding to emails (26 percent) as the top ways they spend their workday.
What’s the biggest time-waster at work? Depends on who you ask
- “Fixing a problem not caused by me” (22 percent) and administrative work (17 percent) were the top two answers given by full-time employees when asked what they waste the most time on at work. Meetings (12 percent), email (11 percent), and customer issues (11 percent) round out the top five time-wasters.
- Baby Boomers apparently waste the most time fixing problems caused by someone else (26 percent). Gen Z was least-likely to clean up after others (18 percent), yet they are most-likely to waste time on handling workplace conflict (9 percent).
- Millennials blame social media the most as a time-sucker (10 percent), and they agree with Gen X as the most-likely to say meetings (13 percent) are a waste of time. Gen Z is twice as likely than Baby Boomers to say talking on the phone is a time-waster (10 percent).
- Part-time employees say they “waste” more time fixing problems caused by others (26 percent) and handling customer issues (16 percent) compared with their full-time counterparts. Conversely, full-time workers are twice as likely to waste time in meetings (12 percent).
Too much wasted time or too much pressure: Are the extra hours causing burnout?
- More than half of all employees worldwide (53 percent) feel pressure to work longer hours or pick up extra shifts to grow their career – yet oftentimes that pressure comes from within. Of those who feel pressure to work longer, 60 percent put pressure on themselves while the rest say that pressure comes solely from their managers.
- Gen Z feels by far the most pressure to grow their careers (67 percent) – which is twice as more as their Baby Boomer colleagues (33 percent), who feel the least pressured.
- Even though 71 percent of workers accomplish what they want to at work every day or almost every day, three in four employees (79 percent) suffer from at least some burnout at work.
- Unreasonable workload (26 percent) was the top reason cited for burnout, followed by “not enough time in the day to get job done” (25 percent); lack of skilled co-workers (24 percent); a negative workplace culture / toxic team (24 percent); and unfair compensation (21 percent).
See more research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, including the recent “Working Your Way” study, which found that organisations often undermine their own employee experience around work-life harmony when it comes to time off, productivity, and workload.