As the Summer of 2023 enters full swing, the world has officially shaken off the remaining vestiges of the pandemic years. While we are all enjoying this return to normalcy, it’s critical that those of us who have the privilege and responsibility to craft policies for the workforce don’t forget some of the lessons we learned when life slowed down more than 3 years ago.
· Mental health matters.
· Personal and family time is important.
· Less in-office time and fewer meetings does not mean lower productivity.
Even though the world seems increasingly focused on improving mental health, research uncovers that full-time employees’ mental health has declined in recent years. U.S. employees regularly log longer hours and cite feeling that they are always on call.
These feelings disproportionately impact women in the workplace, especially those with young children. Last year, nearly 1 in 3 women said they considered reducing their hours, taking a less demanding job, or leaving the workforce altogether.
Being overworked can ultimately lead to burnout, high turnover rates, reduced productivity, and overall lower work quality.
Given these realities, we at Return on Focus (ROF) have decided to increase our focus on the health of our employees by moving to a 4 Day Work Week starting in 2024. While this is not a new idea, it is the right idea to overcome some of the challenges facing the workplace today.
Extensive research and company-wide trials of this approach from around the world have found employees on a 4 day work week experienced decreased levels of burnout (64%) and stress (38%), as well as greater overall satisfaction with their work-life time (65%) and improved mental (43%) and physical (37%) health. In addition to overall improved feelings of health and well-being, employees switching to a 4 day work week reported becoming more involved with family, friends, and their community during their time off.
When examining the impact of this approach by gender, studies found that men provided more help at home by increasing their share of housework and their share of childcare while working a 4 day work week.
Fortunately, these improvements in employee health and wellbeing don’t come at the cost of work quality or service. Studies demonstrate improvements in overall work performance and quality, with high levels of satisfaction among end clients.
Those of you who have worked with ROF know that we specialize in uncovering and delivering hard, evidence-based truths that drive strategic decisions. The evidence is clear that the old ways are no longer the best ways. As a company founded in and focused on health, ROF is excited to join those leading the charge toward a healthier, more balanced way to work.