Will a Four Day Work Week Work? 

Adele McNiff:Today we are looking at the concept of a four day work week in Australia, This this isn’t an entirely new concept, but it’s come back in the news of late because I think there’s been some trials in particularly the US and the UK, which are coming to the end of. It was a six months trial period, and they’re starting to publish some of the data around that Tayla.I think that’s something you’ve been looking into.

Potential figures for a Four Day Work Week in Australia

Tayla Allan: Tiktok has provided me with a lot of information regarding the outcomes. So they came up with 73% of the workers have reported to be more happier, within their job and also outside their work. 40% reported fewer sleep problems. 64% drop in quitting and a 71% drop in reported burnout. 92% of the company said that they’ll continue with the four-day work week after the trial, and then there’s been no drop in wages in the trial, as well as workload. So, I think that in itself just says, from a candidate point of view, that just happy are in general, because they’ve got more of a work-life balance. Instead of spending five out of seven days at work, they spend four out of seven. So they are getting to spend time with their family, their friends, all of that, without an extra workload,

Adele McNiff:  What do we see as some of the potential pros and cons to a four-day working week in Australia?

Tayla Allan: I mean, I think it really depends on the industry that you’re eating. It’s not not for all industries. I think it works really well for some and it’s physically impossible for others. 

Technology and Finance Industry Leadership Shift

Suki Stander: I think, as well is maybe the It’s a mind shift. It’s like we had the mind shift of working from home and Covid, forced that to happen. I think it would have taken much longer for companies to say. Well, let’s do this. Let’s work from home and work from the office and have that hybrid environment or work, 100% remotely. So, It’s it’s getting our heads around. What is this look like? And is it, do we need to work more in terms of our outcomes?What is it going to be based on? How do you know that you’ve actually succeeded and completed what you needed to do in your four days.‘m doing five or so do it in from five days to four days and I did a bit of reading and I just I thought it be really interesting to understand.Why would five days a week and it actually dates back to the 1890s?

History of the Five Day Work Week

Suki Stander: People were working in the manufacturing industry and they it’s late 1890s and going into the early 1900 where they were talking about people working like a hundred hours a week in a manufacturing environment and they were lobbying to take the hours down. So, to work a 40-hour work week instead of a hundred hours working six or seven days a week. So the lobbying happened around, that was actually Henry Ford in 1926 or 1925. That was the first big well-known organization and we know we’re working 40 hour weeks that’s it. So that’s 1926 that there was a real challenge.


Adele McNiff: That’s fascinating. I didn’t know any of that and what’s interesting. You think about it, the world in 1926. It’s different from the world today and I think we are in for another shift in the way we work and what work requires others with the growth in AI and everything that goes with it. So you’ve got to think we are ready or if not overdue for some kind of structural change in what we consider a normal working week and and a move to outcomes and tayla. Like you said, for me that doesn’t work in every industry. It can’t correlate necessarily, but I think as an organization you need to be asking yourself perhaps why you shouldn’t do it, rather than why you should one of the takeaways that I took from some of the, the research and that the trial projects outcomes.


What happens when a Four Day Work Week empowers your talent?

Adele McNiff:  I thought it was interesting was the decrease that they were seeing in sick leave being taken, you know, I think a mental health is becoming increasingly more important for all of us as a society, but particularly in the workplace and avoiding burnout in particular but also, you know, when I think of my answer circumstances with a young family, you constantly on the go, if you’re not at work, you’re dealing with family related things. When I personally need to go to the doctors, where do I fit that in? For example, all you know, you need to go under your six monthly dental, check having that.Working day where those practices are open. Lets you do that without having to impact on the rest of your working week. So I think that’s a positive.It gives people the opportunity to balance things a bit more in that in turn makes you feel a little more in control and a little less stressed.

Future Employees

I was actually talking to a client this morning about this. The whole concept of a four-day working week and he read something quite interesting. We were discussing the fact that the study so far would have predominantly been with existing employees, because they’ve only done it for six months. And so those employees already knew what their five day working week salary was. So somebody new coming into the organization, who’s perhaps getting told that they’re going to get paid a five-day a week salary, but only have to put those hours into four. Is there a risk of it’s a slightly cynical view? But is there a risk that they start questioning? Whether they really are getting paid for a five-day week or has the salary been reduced in turn for the client is somebody asking for an increased salary because they’re worried that they might not get any paid, a full FTE salary. So I think there’s a lot of background thinking, for organizations that needs to go in around.


Adele McNiff: How are you transparent with salaries and that parity and people, you know, now that the legislation has just changed and there’s no longer any, it’s not legal to have a confidentiality clause around salaries in contracts.

Adele McNiff: You’ve got to be absolutely above board with those elements because people will talk and you can then end up with a lot of discord if it’s not being managed very transparently and very honestly. So it was just a really interesting perspective.

Australia’s Four Work Day Week

Suki Stander: Mmm. Absolutely. And I think it’s again if there’s a lot of thought that has to go into this, it’s not. Are we going to do it tomorrow? I was part of a networking webinar, where they an Australian company, it’s a clear recruitment company that implemented a four-day work trial. They called it a trial because they was they wanted to see how it actually works for the employees and when they were asked. So on the fifth day when the employee doesn’t work, what happens then if they get a phone call from a client because you know, our world doesnt stop.


Suki Stander: The expectation was you will take that call and I think that was down to culture because I want to take the call, I’m happy to take the call while I’m actually on my fifth day. So there’s a much bigger conversation than just going to four days a week. It’s the impact and the background that has to be looked at is huge another study that’s actually answer in Australia and I think it’s the nurses union that’s lobbying at the moment to look at the four-day work week for them.


Suki Stander: Because that’s a that’s a market that’s currently the can’t necessarily tap into, but they’ve done research. And if they can go to a four-day week that potentially would open up that market for them. That the mum that’s now a full-time, mum could become a part-time, mom and actually work and be able to juggle the day. Like you said that our juggle life and and work. So, Listen, I don’t think there’s a black and white answer to it for us.


KPI’s of the Four Day Work Week


Adele McNiff: I mean we all know how expensive is Yeah. So and I agree I think you have to go right back to the beginning and look at people’s position descriptions. Are you measuring them on outcomes rather than you know functions of a role you’ve got to think about how that feeds through to professional development discussions. And you know, perhaps remuneration reviews, you’ve got to really put some thought into it, but I certainly think. as a way of engaging your workforce and also,differentiating yourself in the candidate market, it’s definitely something that’s worth looking at.


Tayla Allan: Absolutely having a four-day week would spark a lot of interest for people out there especially the ones that are in an office environment with no flexibility or anything like that. A four-day week would be their dream.

Adele McNiff:  So I think it’s a very interesting topic and I don’t think it’s one that’s gonna go away anytime soon and it will ebb and floor a little. I think it’s people try it for some, it works for others. It doesn’t. But we love any thoughts and have no aspects. We haven’t considered please give us your views.

Tayla Allan: If you’re in a four-day week at the moment,what is it like? Let us know. Spill the tea.


To watch the full discussion check out the video @MontaguGroup on Youtube.

To discuss your talent slutions and future development contact Adele and Suki on LinkedIn.

Get to know industrly leaders Adele and Suki here.