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'Lower levels of burnout, less stress': Major trial lists benefits of four-day week

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Shgun S -- February 21st 2023 07:38 PM
'Lower levels of burnout, less stress': Major trial lists benefits of four-day week

'Lower levels of burnout, less stress': Major trial lists benefits of four-day week

Cambridge (UK), February 21: A major trial in the UK has revealed that a four-day working week lowers the rates of stress and illness among employees.

In the United Kingdom, 61 organisations committed to a 20% reduction in working hours for all employees over a six-month period beginning in June 2022. Furthermore, the vast majority of businesses maintained their full-time productivity targets.

Data from the world's largest four-day working week trial show dramatically lower rates of stress and illness in the workforce, with 71% of employees self-reporting lower levels of "burnout" and 39% stating they were less stressed.

In comparison to the same period the previous year, there was a 66% decrease in sick days and a 57% decrease in the number of employees leaving participating companies. During the trial period, the company's revenue barely changed, increasing by 1.4 percent on average.

According to a report of the findings presented to UK lawmakers, 92% of companies that participated in the UK pilot programme (56 out of 61) intend to keep the four-day working week, with 18 companies confirming the change as permanent.

A team of social scientists from the University of Cambridge collaborated with academics from Boston College in the United States and the think tank Autonomy to conduct research for the UK trials. The trial was organised by 4 Day Week Global in collaboration with the 4 Day Week Campaign in the United Kingdom.

Companies from across the UK participated, with approximately 2,900 employees cutting a day of work. The trial participants ranged from online retailers and financial service providers to animation studios and a local fish-and-chip shop.

Consultancy, housing, IT, skincare, recruitment, hospitality, marketing, and healthcare are among the other industries represented.

Throughout the trial, researchers polled employees to assess the impact of having an extra day off. Across workforces, self-reported levels of anxiety and fatigue decreased, while mental and physical health improved.

Many survey respondents said it was easier to balance work with both family and social commitments: 60% of employees said it was easier to combine paid work with care responsibilities, and 62% said it was easier to combine work with social life.

"Before the trial, many questioned whether we would see an increase in productivity to offset the reduction in working time - but this is exactly what we found," sociologist Prof Brendan Burchell, who led the University of Cambridge side of the research, stated.

"Many employees were very keen to find efficiency gains themselves. Long meetings with too many people were cut short or ditched completely. Workers were much less inclined to kill time, and actively sought out technologies that improved their productivity," he added.

"We feel really encouraged by the results, which showed the many ways companies were turning the four-day week from a dream into realistic policy, with multiple benefits," Dr David Frayne, a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, added.

The results, according to Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, are a "major breakthrough moment" for the concept of shorter work weeks. "These incredible results show that the four-day week actually works across a wide range of different sectors of the economy."

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