Pitching a 4-Day Work Week to Your Boss Is Easier Than You Think

On a typical Friday afternoon, an employee of Emtrain, a California-based human resources technology company, settles down for a nap.

Another loves riding lessons, while others play the piano, practice photography, or visit family or friends they haven’t seen in a while.

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They can do this because Emtrain adopted a four-day workweek pilot program in 2021, one of many companies around the world experimenting with a new way of working.

Odessa Jenkins

Odessa Jenkins

The boss likes it too. “It was very, very touching to see the amount of time people have had in their lives,” said Emtrain president Odessa Jenkins. “We constantly hear stories where our employees learn something new, interact with family they didn’t have before, and it’s really changing the way they live their lives.”

Successful pilots of the four-day workweek, both in the United States and overseas, have found a multitude of benefits for both companies and employees, including improved employee well-being, increased productivity, and a new way of retaining and recruiting talents in a competitive job market context.

We asked three business leaders and a Fortune 500 executive coach why the four-day workweek is gaining popularity. Here’s what they say are the main benefits of this new way of working and how to effectively sell the idea to your boss.

Employees have more time off work

A four-day work week gives employees one of their most valuable assets: time.

After Emtrain switched to a four-day work week, Jenkins was struck by the impact the change had on her team.

“Giving people more time to do what they want to do – to find out about themselves, to explore – gives you an employee base that is more committed to you, but also more committed to their personal health,” said Jenkins. . “This is bringing us healthier employees and happier employees.”

Katie Klumper

Katie Klumper

Katie Klumper, CEO of Black Glass Consulting, a New York-based CMO consulting firm, said she saw similar results at Black Glass during their weekly four-day pilot. Many of its employees use Friday off as a “personal administrator” day to do basic tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, or cleaning.

“This allows them to really have two days off [on the weekend]which allows them to have four days [at work] refreshed, present, focused and more productive, ”Klumper said.

Daryl Appleton

Daryl Appleton

Having more personal time can also increase positive mental health outcomes for employees at a time when burnout is on the rise. “It is incredibly beneficial for people’s mental health and well-being to know that they now have one more day to do it [do life]”said Daryl Appleton, a licensed psychotherapist and Fortune 500 executive coach.

Productivity often improves

A four-day work week forces you to be more efficient in all aspects of your job, including communication, Jenkins said. “It means making a commitment to be very, very focused when you are at work. And we immediately saw that from our employee base.”

According to an internal company survey, 92% of Emtrain employees agreed that they would be able to achieve their priority work milestones during the four-day work week. Odessa also did not notice an increase in employees working longer days. “Maybe it’s more focused work, not more work,” Jenkins said.

Klumper said the move to a four-day work week has led his team to be more intent on how to manage their limited time at work.

“Time is one of the most valuable assets we have as professionals, and evaluating it and being really aware of where to apply has definitely been an advantage,” he said. “It wasn’t designed to be longer working days. It was supposed to be the same time we were working, but to do it in four days.”

The other piece is focus, Klumper said. Working with a tighter schedule has helped its employees hone their skills and abilities to get their jobs done faster. “There have been a lot of positive results in terms of teams being able to collaborate at a faster rate and have been able to be much more intentional and focused on how the work is done,” he said.

Help recruit and retain talent in a competitive job market

In a 2022 survey conducted by Forbes Health-Ipsos Monthly Health Tracker, 90% of respondents said it was important that their work offered a work-life balance. And 82% said it was important that their work offered flexibility when they were working.

Anthony Reynolds

Anthony Reynolds

“I think if there is anything the Great Resignations have taught us, it is that given the opportunity to sit down, people want to join companies where they can feel it supports the lifestyle they want to live.” said Anthony Reynolds, CEO of Utah-based talent experience platform on HireVue. (Instead of a four-day work week, HireVue gives its employees every other Friday afternoon off.)

Allowing for greater flexibility in the workplace can also help companies retain existing employees and help workers reach their maximum potential.

“He was a very talented driver,” said Klumper. “People are responsible. If you have the right people on your team, you could make money every day [paid time off] and they would join anyway because they are passionate about the business. … If you have the right talent, they will do the job and do an even better job when they do it on their terms. “

Both employees and the company benefit from it

“It’s hard to say [the four-day work week pilot] it has not been beneficial, both qualitatively and quantitatively, because we are also breaking our business objectives, “said Jenkins.” Knowing that we have improved both in terms of soft skills and from a financial point of view or from the point of view of business productivity we have improved, it is difficult to say that it was not a great idea “.

According to an internal survey, 82% of Emtrain employees reported experiencing better health and well-being following the four-day work week, while 71% to 75% of employees said they experienced less unproductive stress at work. .

Emtrain is not alone. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of organizations surveyed that had implemented a four-day workweek noticed improvements in employee satisfaction and productivity resulting from fewer meetings.

The nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, which is running a pilot program helping over 70 UK companies test a four-day work week, also reported similar results in its latest survey of participating organizations. According to the survey, 88% of respondents said the four-day workweek was working “well” for their companies three months into the six-month trial period. Additionally, 95% of respondents said productivity remained at the same level or improved, and 86% said they were “likely” to consider maintaining the four-day work week policy after the process ends.

How to propose a four-day work week to your boss

Unless you are a senior executive in your organization, trying a four-day work week will likely require your leadership involvement. Here are some expert tips on the most effective ways to present the idea.

1. Fill in the data

Before you pitch an idea to your organization’s leadership, do your research, Appleton said. Put the data and resources together, and most importantly, be prepared to explain why your idea matters.

“That’s the problem with leadership: they don’t want more jobs,” Appleton said. “Come prepared with everything you have on the table because that might be the only chance you have.”

2. Consider how a four-day work week fits into your company’s existing values

Most of the “new” ideas are simply an iteration of something we’ve seen before, Jenkins said. Look at your company’s core values ​​and see if any of them naturally fit into a more flexible schedule or four-day work week.

For example, Emtrain already had an unlimited PTO policy before its four-day weekly pilot, which meant the company was already used to not having employees in the office with strict schedules. The move to a four-day work week was just another step in the same direction for a company that has placed flexibility as one of its core values.

“[Ask yourself] what are the things you already have in your company that could lend themselves to a more flexible job and amplify it, ”Jenkins said.

3. Focus on business goals and objectives

At the end of the day, you’ll need to show your boss how a four-day work week will benefit the business. Put together success stories from other companies similar to the one you work for and prepare to show how your proposition will increase or maintain profits, potentially reducing expenses and increasing productivity.

“Come up with a proposition focused on establishing success and then moving on from that success,” said Jenkins. “It is always very consumable from [a leadership team’s perspective]. As an executive leader, if you bring me something that seems less risky, more rewarding and proven, it will be very difficult for me to say no. “

4. Suggest a pilot program

If your leadership is reluctant to make such a big change, starting with a temporary pilot is a good way to start a four-day work week.

“Start slowly,” advises Jenkins. “Don’t try to get your business faster or farther than it might be ready to go. Pilot it.”

Emtrain and Black Glass have both started their weekly four-day work schedules as a pilot, and HireVue has done the same with their half-week Friday half-week schedule.

If you’re looking for a place to start, the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global is coordinating six-month pilot programs that provide training, mentoring, and research for organizations interested in testing a four-day work week.


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