Why Workers —And Employers— Need a 4-Day Work Week

See the answers to commonly asked questions about four-day work weeks.

Richard Eisenberg (Photo credit: NextAvenue)
Richard Eisenberg (Photo credit: NextAvenue)
Richard Eisenberg's piece for AOL Jobs suggests that a four-day workweek would make employers happier and more productive.

4-Day Weeks' Pay and Benefits
1. The biggest chunk of the American labor force, the boomers, could use the free day to take their parents to doctor's appointments or handle other eldercare duties, spend time with their grandkids, learn new skills and transition into retirement. Four-day workweeks can also let them cut their commutes. 

2. If you put in 40 hours during your four days, you generally get full pay and benefits. You might even keep your benefits by working 30 to 40 hours, though you'll likely take a proportional pay cut.

3. Compressed workweeks – the delightful term human resources people use for putting in 40 hours in fewer than five days – are "a great way to provide employees the flexibility to meet the demands of work and life outside of work," says Lisa Horn, co-leader of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Workplace Flexibility Initiative and partnership with the Families and Work Institute.

Why employers oppose 4-day workweeks
1. Strong organizational norms on who gets ahead at work. Jessica DeGroot, founder of the Third Path Institute, a Philadelphia-based group that aims to help employees lead "integrated" lives, says managers tend to promote staffers who "put work first," which typically means showing up every weekday.

2. Four-day workweeks add complexity to managers' jobs. "It's much easier to say to everyone, 'Come in at the same time every day and work long hours,'" she says.

Where the Perk Exists
1. Everyone gets a four-day week year-round at tech educator Treehouse Island, in Orlando, Fla., and at Slingshot SEO. Chicago software company 37signals has 32-hour, four-day shifts from May through October.

2. When Work Works, a book published by the Families and Work Institute and SHRM, describes dozens of employers offering four-day workweeks and other types of flexible schedules.

3. Some enterprising employees, including ones at senior levels, manage to pull off their own four-day schedules.

4. Ivan Axelrod, chief operating officer for Provident Financial Management in Santa Monica, Calif., four years ago began taking Mondays off to provide child care for his granddaughter Madelyn, allowing her mom to work those days.

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