POWERING WORKPLACE PERFORMANCE
A shorter work week might be everyone’s dream – but would the four day work week’s impact on employee development be practical in the modern workplace?
The traditional 9-to-5 work schedule has been a staple in the corporate world for decades. However, with the rise of technology and the changing demands of the modern workforce, the concept of a shorter workweek has gained traction.
The four day work week is not just about working less, but it’s about rethinking the way we work, and finding a better work-life balance. But the ramifications of a four day work week extend beyond just changing our personal lives, it also has the potential to dramatically impact employee learning and development.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various implications of balancing a four day work week and employee training and development.
Why businesses are adopting the four day work week
The way we work has been evolving over the years, and with the advancements in technology, the traditional 9-to-5 workweek is becoming increasingly outdated. In the 19th century, it was common for workers to put in 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. However, with improvements in productivity and efficiency, the standard workweek has shortened, and many companies are now exploring alternative work schedules.
One of the biggest drivers of the four day work week is the changing expectations and needs of the modern workforce. With the rise of the gig economy and remote work, employees are seeking more flexibility and control over their work-life balance. The four day work week provides an opportunity for employees to have more time off, which can help reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, and improve overall well-being.
Benefits for employee learning
There are numerous benefits that introducing a four day work week can have on learning and development in the workplace, including improvements in the following areas:
One of the biggest benefits of a four day workweek is that it allows employees to have more time for continuous learning and professional development. They can attend workshops, conferences, and online courses, and have the time and energy to focus on their personal and professional growth. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and retention, as employees feel motivated to grow and learn.
On a similar note, properly balancing the four day work week and employee career development can also help to foster a culture of learning within the organisation. By encouraging employees to seek out new experiences and opportunities, it creates a positive environment that prioritises growth and development. This can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and collaboration, as employees bring new skills and ideas back to the workplace.
By giving employees more time off, they are able to recharge and rejuvenate, leading to increased motivation, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. This, in turn, can improve employee engagement, as employees feel more connected to their work and are more motivated to contribute to the success of the organisation.
Employee engagement is crucial to apply design thinking for learning and development as engaged employees are more likely to seek out new opportunities and challenges. When employees feel engaged and motivated, they are more likely to take ownership of their professional growth and actively seek out new experiences and learning opportunities. This can lead to increased skills development, improved job performance, and a more dynamic and innovative workforce.
The four day work week can play a crucial role in reducing burnout, which is a significant challenge for many employees. Burnout can lead to decreased motivation, decreased job satisfaction, and decreased overall well-being, all of which can negatively impact employee learning and development. By providing employees with more time off, they are able to recharge and pursue other interests, leading to increased energy and focus, and reduced stress and burnout.
The four day work week can have a significant impact on increasing productivity, which is crucial for both employee learning and development and the success of the organisation. Research in 2022 and prior has shown that the impact of a shorter week on employee productivity is positive, with an experiment conducted by Microsoft in Japan finding a 40% increase in productivity when switching to a four day work week. Similar experiments are undermining the outdated assumption that increased hours automatically increase productivity.
Similarly, a more productive workforce can also free up resources and time for the organisation to invest in employee learning and development programs, leading to a proactive cycle of increased productivity, employee engagement, and continuous learning.
The four day work week has the potential to greatly improve work-life balance for employees, and this can have a significant impact on employee learning and development. Having a better work-life balance can also lead to increased motivation, job satisfaction, and overall well-being, which are all crucial factors for employee learning and development. When employees feel fulfilled and satisfied in their personal and professional lives, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and focused on their work. This can lead to improved job performance, increased motivation, and a more dynamic and innovative workforce, all of which are crucial for employee learning and development.
Challenges for employee learning
Despite its many benefits, it is important to note that the relationship between a four day work week and employee development may not be clear cut.
One of the challenges of balancing a four day work week and employee skill development is the time constraint that a shorter week creates. By compacting a 40-hour workweek into 4 days, employees may feel overwhelmed and stressed, as they are expected to complete the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time. This could have a negative impact on their learning and development, as they may feel that they have less time to focus on skill-building and other forms of professional growth.
One solution to address the time constraints of a four day work week while promoting employee learning and development could be the implementation of the 70-20-10 model for learning in the workplace. This approach to learning and development suggests that 70% of learning should occur through on-the-job experiences and challenges, 20% through social interactions such as mentorship and feedback, and 10% through formal training programs. By prioritising hands-on experiences and social learning opportunities, employees can continue to develop their skills and competencies in a more flexible and efficient manner that fits within the time constraints of a shorter work week.
Another challenge of the four day work week is scheduling conflicts that may arise due to different employees taking different days off. This can make it difficult to schedule impromptu meetings, which can be a hindrance to communication and collaboration within the workplace. When employees are unable to work together effectively, it can negatively impact their learning and development, as they may miss out on opportunities to learn from one another and collaborate on projects.
Reduced communication can be another challenge of the four day work week. With employees having a day off each week, there may be less opportunity for in-person interaction and collaboration, which can lead to a decrease in communication. This can have a negative impact on employee learning and development, as it can limit opportunities for informal learning and peer-to-peer exchange of ideas and knowledge.
When everyone is working different days, it can be difficult to deliver consistent standards and maintain a seamless workflow. This may lead to confusion and miscommunication, which can impact employee learning and development, as employees may miss out on important information or miss deadlines.
While there are many benefits of the 4 day work week, including increased engagement and productivity, and improved work-life balance, there are also challenges that must be taken into consideration, such as scheduling conflicts and reduced communication. However, with the right strategies in place, organisations can ensure that employees are able to continue learning and developing, regardless of their work schedule.
DeakinCo. understands the importance of employee learning and development and offers bespoke learning solutions that are designed to instil employees with the necessary tools to thrive in the workplace, regardless of the business model in place. Whether your organisation is considering a 4 day work week or not, our expert team is here to help you unlock the full potential of your workforce.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help your employees thrive and reach their full potential.