More than half (52%) of employers say a four-day week would not be of benefit to them, but four-fifths (80%) believe giving staff Wednesday afternoons off would boost productivity, according to research commissioned by behaviour change consultancy Kin and Co.
Some organisations, including Gloucestershire-based public relations agency Radioactive PR, have extended workers’ weekends to three days by giving them Friday off. However, half (50%) of the 200 HR professionals polled for the survey, carried out in November 2018 by CensusWide, said a four-day week would not work in practice.
Nevertheless, the research also found that 70% of respondents have noticed a significant dip in their employees’ energy levels midweek, and a further 70% said they would consider trialling Wednesday afternoons off immediately.
Dr Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, said: “Stress in the workplace and poor work-life balance are serious problems for British businesses, with millions of hours lost to stress-related illness every year.
“Wednesday afternoons off have the potential to be revolutionary for the UK economy. By helping employees to switch off midweek and have a chance to rest or focus on personal interests, they are far more likely to recover mentally and physically, return to work more productive and have lower stress levels in the long term.”
Kin and Co has already implemented Wednesday afternoons off for its own employees. Jhanvi Gudka, senior project manager, said: “It started as a one-off idea but as soon as we started enforcing it, we realised how much it transformed our culture. Energy levels on a Thursday are now at their highest, and staff continually refer to it as the best thing about working at the company.”
Rosie Warin, chief executive officer of Kin and Co, said: “There are many types of alternative shorter week, such as the six-hour day and the four-day week, but from the data, the psychology, and our own practical trial, we strongly believe that Wednesday afternoon off is not only the most beneficial for employees, but also the most practical and accessible option to organisations today.”