Business

Would You Like a Four-Day Workweek? Here's How to Convince Your Company to Test It Out

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It's no surprise that many people like the idea of a four-day workweek.

Convincing your employer to test it out, on the other hand, may not be an easy task.

Only a relatively small number of employers offer a four-day policy, However, 40 companies in the U.S. and Canada are currently checking it out in a pilot program run by 4 Day Week Global.

And on Monday, 70 businesses with a total of 3,300 workers in the U.K. began their own six-month pilots. Later this year, the organization expects to launch a second North American program.

The idea is simple: employees work 80% of the time but maintain 100% productivity for 100% of the pay. It doesn't mean less work, but rather employees work more efficiently on the job, including cutting back on unnecessary meetings.

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What's more, intense interest from employees seeking the change, has stirred 4 Day Week Global to begin offering workshops on how to persuade employers to give four-day weeks a try.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, global programs and development manager for 4 Day Week Global, believes companies can be persuaded to see the benefits of the change.

"My sense is the resistance is not around ,'Is it possible to work a four-day week?' " he said. "The resistance comes around, 'Is it possible in our company? Is it possible given our market?' "

"It is more a conversation around strategy and tactics and not philosophy."

To be sure, a four-day workweek won't be a good fit for every business or every industry.

Here's what you should know before you approach your employer about the shortened workweek, according to Pang.

1. Address real issues

Don't just make an appeal based on your desire to work fewer days. Instead, you should address everyday challenges the company is facing, said Pang, who will be leading the workshops.

"It should be presented as a solution to challenges of recruitment and retention and burnout and work/life balance sustainability," Pang advised.

In addition, many experts believe the adoption of four-day workweeks could help employers attract and retain talent.

"Offering shortened workweeks certainly gives employers an edge in hiring," said Dave Fisch, CEO of career website Ladders.

"For employers unwilling to adjust their policies to reflect the demand for flexibility, they are at risk of losing talented people and could struggle to replace them," he added.

2. Do your homework

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Before you make your case, do some digging to figure out how a shortened week can work in your company. Perhaps you can identify a division or segment of the company that can test it out first, Pang suggested.

If possible, you can try to identify what can be eliminated during the workday to improve efficiency, such as excess meetings, or perhaps what can be automated or outsourced.

"Studies tell us that office workers lose about two to three hours of productive time every day to overly long meetings, to technology distractions, to interruptions in the office," Pang said.

"What that tells us is the four-day week is already here; it is just buried under outmoded ways of working," he said.

3. Establish benchmarks

It is best to come armed with suggestions of what benchmarks need to be met in order for the trial to be deemed a success.

"The last thing you want is to have a trial where you feel everyone feels it went well but then the CEO says we're going back to five days because of these reasons," Pang said.

4. Ask questions

If you face resistance after you make the pitch, ask company leaders what evidence would clarify the decision for them.

Perhaps that evidence would be more data from a similar or competing organization or something else that can show how it may work.

5. Cast the leader as the protagonist

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Emphasize the positive role the CEO or leader can play in helping workers and easing workplace challenges by enacting a four-day workweek, Pang said.

By doing that, and also highlighting the positive outcome on their own lives, you are more likely to turn them from skeptics to enthusiasts, he explained.

"This is the kind of story that every CEO would love to be able to tell about themselves," Pang said. "In a sense what you're doing is giving them the chance to be the center of that story."

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