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Communication is essential to the success of a 4-day work week

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read

The four-day week debate has been circulating workplace discussions, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want a shorter work week? However, if implemented, there is room for everything to fall apart if communication isn’t upheld.

The introduction of a shorter work week can be a strategic move. With talent shortages plaguing many organisations, leveraging flexibility can help bring skilled workers in the door.

“Although cyclical factors undoubtedly play a role in the war for talent, aging populations and skills shortages make it hard to find good employees. Against this backdrop, employers will need a competitive edge. A four-day week may be just that,” said LHH managing director James McIlvena.


However, if dialogue isn’t ongoing and employees are left in the dark, things could easily fall apart. Keeping employees up to date and aware of their responsibilities is a must.

This is made evident by the popular four-day week model that many businesses have taken to using: the 100/80/100 model. This means 100 per cent of the pay, 80 per cent of the time, maintaining 100 per cent productivity.

While simple in its design, there’s a lingering question: What exactly does a 20 per cent reduction of work really mean?

“The four-day week is likely to be a gradual and iterative process requiring some trial and error to ensure productivity remains at 100 per cent. These arrangements need to be specific to the individual and their role to be personalised and effective,” said Mr McIlvena.

“Some industries may struggle to reduce hours worked, especially as some roles don’t allow for the 100/80/100 rule. Shift workers, for example, need to be present to achieve 100 per cent productivity. The nursing and childcare sectors – where staff-to-patient/child ratios must be maintained at fixed levels – face similar dilemmas.”

This is where grey areas can lead to confusion. Workplaces considering implementation must account for these nuances. This can be achieved effectively through sustained communication with employees.

Therefore, the four-day week may not be suitable for many professions. According to research from LHH, collaboration is one area that becomes hindered, as 56 per cent of respondents agreed that a four-day week has made it harder to work as a team.

Careful evaluation should be considered before jumping into this change. While LHH found that 83 per cent of employees saw their mental health improved while working a four-day week, if the business isn’t able to run effectively, priorities need to be weighed up. Each industry will see varied results, and as such, implementation should be approached with care.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.