92% success rate for UK’s four-day week trial 

23 Feb 2023

It’s perhaps not surprising that the UK’s four-day week trial period has had an ‘incredible’ success rate, according to official findings. Almost every business that participated in the trial – the biggest in the world – has decided to continue with the model! Published earlier this week, the report carried out by the UK think tank, Autonomy, along with academics at the University of Cambridge and Boston College, showed a minimum of 56 out of 61 businesses that took part – a massive 92% - will remain with the four-day working pattern. In addition, 18 organisations said the model has already become a permanent change. 

Trial findings

Although the firms’ revenues remained broadly the same – with an average 1.4% increase over the six-month timeframe - there were other key advantages to shorter working hours. Two of the top benefits were improved mental and physical well-being. Around 39% of employees said they felt less stressed, whilst 71% said they had lower levels of burnout at the end of the trial period. Around 2,900 workers participated in the six-month trial carried out by 4 Day Week Global campaign group between June and December 2022. The report revealed that the employees “resisted the idea that the four-day week must be ‘one size fits all’”, so every business structured a tailor-made policy. The four-day week model ranged from ‘Friday off’ ideas to ‘staggered’, ‘decentralised’, ‘annualised’ and ‘conditional’ structures, People Management reports. Furthermore, the trial results showed an improvement in job retention. There was a considerable 57% fall in the probability an employee would leave where they worked a four-day week, as well as a 65% drop in the number of sick days reported.

What are the people saying?

“The main explanation for this success is that people just work harder when you reward them with freedom and flexibility. In other words, if you are forcing people to spend five days at work for tasks they could achieve in four, then let them have a four-day week,” said Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, chief innovation officer at ManpowerGroup and professor of business psychology at Columbia University and UCL. Whereas Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “This pilot has shown the potential organisations have to rewrite the rules on working norms across different roles and sectors and create better balance of working lives for their people while maintaining business output and outcomes.” He added: “It has shown the willingness to innovate and that the four-day week could be a valuable option to improve work-life balance and retain and attract people.” 

Moreover, recent findings by the CIPD on a four-day working week revealed 34% of businesses think this model will be a permanent fixture within the coming decade. Yet, as it stands, just 10% of companies have reduced working hours without a reduction in pay for a considerable part of the workforce.