Break The Rule Of 40-Hour Work Week To Retain Top Talent
The 40-hour work week: A relic of the past?
The 40-hour work week is the standard norm of many organizations. However, with the changing workplace dynamics, this norm is becoming a thing of the past. There are several reasons why you should consider breaking your organization’s 40-hour work week rule in order to retain top talent.
The 40-hour work week is becoming an artifact of the last century, when employees were expected to operate at peak efficiency for eight hours a day.
The Millennial generation is driving this movement. They have different expectations about work and life and place a high value on work-life balance. The old model work schedules like the nine to five, forty hour work week doesn't appeal to them.
Today, employees want to spend more time doing what they want to do instead of working long hours for no reason other than getting ahead in their careers. Millennials and GenZ are leading this movement away from long hours and towards work-life balance as a key factor in their choice of employer.
Why You Should Break The Rule Of 40-Hour Work Week?
“You shouldn’t have to choose between doing a good job and having a life.” Ariana Huffington
In the year of 2000, a book titled "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss was published. It took another 14 years for the concept to be considered seriously. In the year 2014, Microsoft Japan announced that they were going to increase the productivity of their employees by giving them every Friday off for an entire month. With this experiment, they found that the productivity of their employees increased by 40% and there was a 23% reduction in electricity use and a drop in paper consumption of 59%.
In addition, less time was spent on meetings and in emails which helped employee well-being as well. It also led to better communication and interaction among employees. This famous experience known as "work style reform" has inspired many companies to consider shortening the workweek as well.
Here are a few reasons why you should break the rule of a 40 hour work week
- Your employees can have a life
The 40-hour week schedule is flexible. It allows you to choose your working hours, as long as it’s within the agreed timeframe. This means that there are no strict arrival and departure times for employees. The schedule gives you more time to take care of personal responsibilities, like fixing things around the house or taking care of your children. You can also use the extra hours to work on your side hustle, be productive in other ways, or even pursue a hobby.
- You can maximize employee productivity
Many people find that they're more productive when they have fewer working hours per week (and less stress). Instead of spending too much time on unimportant tasks just to fill up those 40 hours, you can focus on the activities and projects that matter most.
- Your employee’s life isn't all about work
Employees need more time to do leisurely activities or spend quality time with their friends and family members. So that when they return from vacation relaxed and recharged, they will be ready for new challenges at work, with renewed energy and motivation.
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What are the best alternatives for the 40-hour work week
There are many ways you can break the rule of 40 hour work week:
1. 4-day workweek
This is similar to the compressed work week in that it lets you pack your 40 hours into fewer days so you can have an extra day off during the week. However, unlike a compressed work schedule, you'd still be putting in eight-hour days instead of longer ones like 10 hours.
2. Complete Remote work
Working remotely is becoming more popular nowadays. Companies like Zapier and Automatic have fully remote teams. This gives employees more flexibility with their time while still getting their job done properly. This can give employees more time to spend with their families or on things they love doing.
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3. Compressed work weeks
This schedule allows you to condense your hours into fewer days and take a longer weekend — or even add an extra day off during the week if your boss agrees. So, instead of working Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you could work four 10-hour days from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., leaving Friday free, or work three 12-hour days and take Wednesday off.
While it may not be feasible to pull this off if you have to be physically present at an office every day, it's definitely an option for those who can work remotely at least part of the time — which is why many companies now offer employees the chance to do so.
The advantage for employers with this type of work schedule is that it can reduce the need for overtime or additional staffing on busy days.
4. Flex-time hours
Flex time allows employees to come in early or late, but still put in 40 hours within the week. Many companies offer flex-time hours (e.g. 8-5, 9-6, 10-7) plus some other benefits like working from home or compressed work weeks (working longer days to take off every other Friday) or Alternative schedules
Must read: How to implement flextime the right way
5. Unlimited paid time off (PTO)
A growing trend in the startup community, unlimited PTO policies are built around a simple principle: give employees the freedom to take time off when they need it. This means that, unlike traditional PTO policies, there’s no cap on the amount of time you can take per year and no need to track your days on a calendar. Employees are trusted to get their work done and take time off as necessary.
6. Volunteer time off (VTO)
Many companies offer employees paid time off each year that they can use as they wish. But what if your employer wanted you to spend some of that time volunteering? That's the idea behind VTO, which gives employees paid time off specifically to serve their communities. The concept allows workers to take an active role in improving their neighborhoods — and it looks good for businesses in terms of their reputations and employee recruitment efforts.
7. Sabbaticals and sabbatical leaves
A sabbatical is a period of time — usually several weeks or months — when an employee takes time off from their job. Sometimes, employees have to take unpaid leave during this time, but many companies offer paid sabbatical leave for full-time employees.
Sabbaticals are intended to give employees who are dedicated to their employers a chance to recharge, often by pursuing a different interest or traveling. The practice is not uncommon among professors at universities, who often take the summer off to write or travel.
Employees on sabbatical might work on a project related to their company or do something completely unrelated. Some use this time to go back to school and earn additional degrees, and others travel for pleasure or explore new hobbies.
It's not always the amount of time your employees or the strict work schedule that matters, it's not just about putting in more hours. So think twice before enforcing a strict 40-hour work week on your employees. There is a far more critical aspect of company culture that needs to be addressed in order to retain top talent, and that is trust. It comes down to what people are being empowered to do and the level of responsibility they are trusted with.
Most of us would love to get more done in less time, and research shows that this might just be possible. However, it's important to remember that the challenges of increased productivity will likely vary depending on the type of business you own, so it can be hard to come up with an ideal solution. What's more, these challenges may also depend on your company culture.