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Four Day Work Week Reduces Burnout and Stress, Boosts Productivity

Key Highlights

  • According to findings of a study, the largest trial of a four-day, 32-hour workweek in the UK has demonstrated that a shorter workweek resulted in less burnout and stress among employees. 
  • Most companies involved in the study maintained their productivity targets despite the reduced workweek of 32 hours, which was a significant finding.

The study was conducted over six months and found that 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout, and 39% said they were less stressed than at the start of the trial. Sick days were reduced by 65%, and there was a 57% decline in the number of staff who left the participating companies compared with the same period the previous year. 

Moreover, most companies continued to meet the same productivity goals that were in place when everyone was working 40 hours.

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Effects of Burnout

The effects of burnout are increasingly recognized as a serious problem, contributing to a range of physical and mental health issues, including insomnia, alcohol and substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 

Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index found that 48% of employees and 53% of managers said they were burned out at work. The phenomenon has been identified as a critical factor behind the “Great Resignation,” in which an estimated 50.5 million people left their jobs in 2022.

However, fewer work hours each week can help with burnout and stress, giving people more time for recovery, more sleep, and creating more space for hobbies and healthy habits. 

Four day Work Week: Reduces Stress Among Employees

A four day work week can also enforce work-life boundaries, reducing the need to answer emails or check phones in one’s time off. A global programs and development manager at 4 Day Week Global, the nonprofit organization that helped design the UK pilot study, noted that companies with a four day work week tend to be good at enforcing work-life boundaries, making it less likely that employees will have to work harder and under more time pressure.

The results of the UK study suggest that reducing work hours can be a highly effective strategy for reducing burnout and stress among employees. 

As workers cut out inefficient periods of their day and find better ways of solving problems and doing things, productivity remains stable or even increases. As more companies recognize the benefits of a shorter workweek, it seems likely that this trend will continue to grow in popularity.

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