HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

88% of employers support a shortened work week: Here’s why

By Emma Musgrave | |4 minute read

A growing number of Aussie employers say they support the idea of a shortened work week, with the arrangement seemingly a good business decision for several reasons.

New research from specialised recruiter Robert Half shows 88 per cent of employers support a shortened work week – either a four-day work week or a nine-day fortnight. This is up from 71 per cent in November 2022.

The reasons behind the increased support for the compressed work week are varied. Forty-five per cent said it comes off the back of employee feedback, while 41 per cent said promising results from other companies that have implemented a four-day work week have made them understand the value of such arrangements.


A further 35 per cent said good business results were a key reason behind their growing support, as were positive changes seen to their business model/operation.

“Workers are speaking up about what matters most to them, and having more dedicated time for family and personal activities is high on their wish list. Compressed work weeks are one way to support this desire,” said Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half.

“Offering flexible schedules, remote and hybrid work options, and extra paid time off are other strategies for giving staff greater autonomy resulting in higher engagement, productivity and retention.”

However, despite an overwhelming majority of employers supporting the idea of a four-day work week or a nine-day fortnight, only 49 per cent of them would actually consider offering it as an arrangement.

“Supporting a shortened work week is a noble option for employee wellbeing, but the feasibility of this endeavour doesn’t always fit the agenda of a business,” Ms Gorton said.

“Balancing the needs of the workforce with the realities of operations and costs is the true litmus test of progressive employment practices like compressed work weeks.

“There are many reasons why employers support a compressed work week but are unable to implement them, spanning from prioritisation issues, headcount restraints, industry type and the lack of face-to-face time with customer and clients. So while the notion of a four-day work week or nine-day fortnight is favourable for the employee experience, it is not always a practical option.”

According to Robert Half, SME employers are more likely to face these feasibility constraints, despite being more supportive of the shortened work week than those in large organisations.

Ninety-two per cent of SME employers are supportive of the shortened work week compared to 81 per cent of large employers who are supportive. However, 47 per cent of SMEs would actually consider offering it, while 55 per cent of large employers would consider offering it.

A four-day work week won’t work for every organisation – each situation is unique and requires careful consideration and planning to set staff up for success,” Ms Gorton said.

“If providing a permanent compressed work week is off the cards for all or some employees, companies could offer flexible work schedules, a compressed work week on compressed pay, or temporary shortened weeks for employees in different life stages such as new parents or retirees re-entering the workforce. But while a shortened work week could be a fit for some, sticking to traditional work hours may be crucial for others in order to service clients and customers.”