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A new Gallup poll takes a look, but also finds that worker engagement doesn't necessarily rise by shaving a day from the standard full-time schedule.
As employee burnout and stress continues to rise, employers are considering a four-day workweek to ease the strain, according to a report by Gallup. Leaders are also considering more permanent flexibility with remote or hybrid work arrangements based on what they learned from the "forced work experiment" during Covid-19, according to the report.
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gallup asked 10,364 full-time employees the number of days they typically work. About 5% said they work four days a week, 84% said five days and 11% said six days, the report says. The poll found workers with four-day weeks have the highest rates of thriving well-being (63%), compared with those working five (57%) or six days (56%).
In fact, having a shorter workweek possibly provides more opportunities for nurturing social, physical and community well-being, the report states.
However, while the percentage of engaged workers was similar across the three workweek conditions, actively disengaged workers were highest among those who clocked in for four-day and six-day workweeks, according to Gallup. This shows that employee engagement is not enhanced by a four-day workweek.
While four-day schedules can work for some organizations, Gallup said policies that seek to control work-life balance are based on two dubious assumptions:
- Work is a "bad thing" that should be avoided.
- Knowledge of what will work effectively for all employees.
If an organization wants to engage workplace culture, reducing the workweek may not be the place to start, the report says.
A Bigger Question About Work
While the debate over a four-day workweek is not new, there is a bigger question about the work itself, the report says. Here are a few findings Gallup recommends considering:
- Workers want more flexibility. Not only does job flexibility correlate with higher employee engagement, but it also allows employees to boost their overall well-being in other areas while still meeting the requirements of their job.
- About two-thirds of engaged employees are thriving in their overall lives regardless of the days worked per week.
- For people with low job satisfaction and no opportunity to do what they do best, increasing hours worked led to declines in life evaluations and positive daily experiences.
- For well-being, the quality of the work experience has two to three times the effect of the number of days or hours worked.
For more information from the Gallup report click here.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.