The four-day work week grabs headlines again as UK supermarket chain, Morrisons, announces it will end its four-day working shifts based on poor employee feedback, affecting roughly 2,000 staff members. In 2020, the chain introduced reduced weekly working hours for office staff from 40 to 37.5 hours. So, does the 4-day week really have untold disadvantages?
Initially, the introduction of Saturday working aimed to assist head office employees in supporting the company’s 497 stores that operate on weekends. However, the move faced criticism from workers, prompting the company to reconsider its approach.
Joe Ryle, director of the 4-Day Week Campaign, commended the reduction in staff working hours at Morrisons but emphasised that the Saturday requirement fell short of a true four-day, 32-hour working week. Ryle stated, “Being required to work on Saturdays was never going to be popular and isn’t really a four-day week.”
The 4-Day Week Campaign advocates for shorter working weeks with no loss of pay, believing such a change would benefit workers, employers, the economy, society, and the environment.
Looking at other examples of the 4-day week
Interestingly, Morrisons’ decision to abandon the four-day working experiment comes on the heels of rival supermarket chain Asda introducing a four-day working week. Last week, Asda implemented the policy, following a 2022 trial involving nearly 3,000 workers across 61 UK companies. The trial revealed extensive benefits, particularly in terms of employee well-being, with 56 of the firms deciding to retain the four-day working week policy permanently.
Various organisation types are trying out the 4-day week across the globe. Some countries, such as Canada, overwhelmingly voted to keep the adjusted hours. A UK study completed in February 2023 also saw the majority of participating organisation decide to keep the 4-day week once the study trial ended.
But, that’s not to say the new model is adaptable across all industries. In March 2023, another report highlighted the down sides of a shorter workweek, particularly for front-of-house staff and physical industries such as construction. To summarise: less hours to work meant more stress for employees. And, sometimes, it was also associated with higher costs as organisations must hire more employees to cover each employee’s shorter working shifts.
Thus far, there’s no clear cut answer as to whether the 4-day week will be a champion in changing working shifts. In the meantime, Work in Mind will continue bringing you the latest information and research on the 4-day week.
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