Is the 4-Day Work Week the Answer to Your Prayers?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A 2019 study of 250 UK businesses operating with a 4-day work week calculated that the participating companies had together already made an estimated annual savings of 92 billion pounds.

So going to a 4-day work week sounds like a no-brainer and it is likely that a 4-day work week is the answer to your staff’s prayers. But is it really the answer for your organisation?

To answer this question, it is important to understand how motivation and the resulting performance is affected by two key things: the leadership and the environment experienced by the team members.

LEADERSHIP

There seems little doubt that staff would much prefer the 4-day work week. However, there is a bigger question to consider: why can the staff produce the same output in four days that they were doing in five?

A key factor is presumably they are working better or harder in 4 days than they were in 5 days: if so why?

  • Is turnover/absenteeism down with the shorter week?
  • Are staff just burnout from the full 5-day week and does a longer weekend mean they can apply themselves fully when back at work?
  • Are staff disengaged by the management but becoming more engaged simply by the offering of the carrot of a 4-day week?
  • Are the productivity measurements inaccurate?
  • Is the organisation able to attact/retain better talent (but this factor is unlikely to impact the outcome so quickly)?

ENVIRONMENT

Remember how managers were so pleasantly surprised by how hard their staff were working when the pandemic struck  in 2020 when almost everyone moved to remote work? Managers were fearing the worst. But most organizations found that staff/teams were generally working even harder than before and thought that the benefit of remote work was settled. This missed the understanding of how context affects motivation and how “contexts” change.

When the pandemic struck the environment was one of uncertainty about job/life security coupled with the new experience of working remotely. But after a few months there is a new context for workers. There was more certainty about their job, the experience of how they were related to by managers and their organisation while working remotely, and a much better understanding of what it felt like.  It turns out that remote work often led to a decline in productivity over time partly because of this change in context.

There will be a similar change in context for staff moving to a 4-day work week. Once it moves from a new and sought after benefit, to something common and expected, will there be similar declines?

ACTIONS AND SUMMARY

There are several systems to put in place to maintain the effectiveness of the four-day week. Coaching/leadership training will almost certainly be one of them. This can be enhanced by creating a leadership culture. This means improving leadership at all levels of the organisation.

So before asking whether the 4-day work week might be the answer, perhaps a better question is asking have your managers been trained in the advanced leadership skills necessary. Those skills necessary to keep staff motivated in the more difficult context of leading/managing staff to their potential in a 4-day work week (and in leading a remote team where that is relevant)?

Contact us to find out how to do this: MarkTwo Consulting .

 

Mark began his career as a combat and chemical engineer, but quickly started to get a greater interest in human performance and leadership in particular. His first role was in the UK’s 5 Airborne Brigade, where he was a Jungle Warfare instructor, Helicopter Abseil dispatcher and Demolitions Officer for 11 years before moving into the business world for 30 years.

He specialises in enabling organisations and leaders to gain significantly greater engagement from their staff in a way that directly increases the 4P’s of purpose, productivity, performance and profit. He does this through leadership and high-performance team training in Motivational Leadership and boosting leaders’ four fundamental intelligences (which means first extinguishing the “IQ Myth”). These courses focus on leadership, self-leadership and self-awareness in both professional and personal life.

He has run leadership development and assessment courses since 1986 in twenty countries and on 6 of the 7 continents, in both military and commercial environments. Countries include: Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Africa, Dubai, Jordan, Brunei, Belize, South Korea, the Falkland Islands and Fujairah UAE, involving participants from about 60 different countries from around the world.

Mark set up the international consultancy, MarkTwo Consulting, in 2002  to provide advanced leadership development and assessment programs, applying the best international organisational psychometric instruments. Mark is certified in twenty of the world’s best ones, and realised an additional instrument was needed that helped companies motivate and engage their managers and workforce. Mark researched the area and found new ways of explaining pragmatically the underlying causes of the lack of engagement and productivity. Using those findings, he developed MarkTwo Consulting’s highly innovative and holistic Universal Hierarchy of Motivation (UHM) leadership development tool.

The UHM gives leaders new insights on human intelligence and helps people to enhance their self-awareness and self-leadership in all areas. Recent advances in neuroscience have vindicated the UHM theory have added weight to its conclusions.

His drive for guiding people to be the best leaders they can be at home and work, combined with his deep knowledge and unique take on “authentic” leadership as a driver of business performance, has made MarkTwo’s courses highly sought after in Asia-Pacific.

Mark speaks at high profile events, and has been interviewed on Australian national TV, and prime time media on matters to do with capability, selection, recruitment and assessment.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Royal School of Military Engineering. He is trained in a form of Jungian psychology as well as internationally credentialled in 20 of the World’s best organizational psychology instruments for assessment and development. He is also a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Facilitators, Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute, Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and member of the International Coaching Federation.

He is also qualified in other unusual areas, such as a Range Firing Officer, Taekwondo blackbelt, Watermanship Officer, and an Arrest and Restraints Instructor.

Mark has published three books: MOTIVATIONAL LEADERSHIP – which debunks 10 common myths on leadership (and several illusions about intelligence); THE SEVEN MOTIVATIONS OF LIFE – a psychological reference book on the psychology of leadership and life; and A HIMALAYAN TRINITY – about insights gained from experiencing serious illness and trekking across remote areas of the Himalayas.

He has Dual Citizenship (UK/AUS) and lives in Melbourne Australia with his wife, Ruth.

 

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