All too often, the workweek turns into a countdown to Friday. Time seems to slow down from Wednesday to Friday and then hit light speed over the weekend. Then Monday rolls around, and we head back to the office feeling like we never left.

Why is it that two days off never seem like enough to recharge? Part of the problem is that the typical workweek has slowly stretched beyond 40 hours. A 2014 Gallup survey found that most full-time employees now work an average of 47 hours a week. Thirty-nine percent work more than 50 hours a week.

Those hours add up and slowly begin to wear down employees and their productivity. It's time for employers to give their workforce a break. And one of the best ways to do that is by switching to a four-day workweek.

Here's the case for making Thursday the new Friday:

An advantage in the War for Talent

Companies are going to great lengths to offer talent more and more benefits in an effort to attract better employees. The 2016 Society for Human Resource Management Employee benefits report found that 33 percent of organizations had increased the number of benefits they provide over the last year.

The trick, however, is to actually offer perks employees want. Free snacks and pet insurance are nice, but don't appeal to as many people as an extra day off. A job that provides better work-life balance is something that truly attracts job seekers.

A 2016 Jobvite study found that 41 percent of talent see work-life balance as one of the most valuable things they look for in a job. Furthermore, a 2015 FlexJobs survey found that 30 percent of employees would take a 10-20 percent pay cut if it meant having a more flexible work schedule. Switching to four-day workweek will give you a competitive advantage in recruiting that talent.

Quality over quantity of work

In many cases, more work does not mean better work. Anyone who's pulled an all-nighter before knows that at some point even the simplest task will take you twice as long to complete as time goes on. So while, yes, employees are in the office longer, they're not producing high quality work.

Employees get burnt out. A 2016 Staples Business Advantage survey found that half of working adults feel overworked. Without sufficient time to recuperate, employees health and their productivity suffer.

And what makes matters worse is, even when employees do go home, they still can't relieve the work stress. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that 44 percent of workers can't sleep at night because they're thinking about work. That, in turn, negatively impacts their work the following day. And the cycle continues. Sixty-one percent of employees said being tired hurt the quality of their performance.

By moving to a four-day workweek, everybody has the chance to rest, decompress, and come back into the office ready to go. You might be surprised how much better employees perform in less time.

Increase profitability

Before you scoff and say "There's no way a company can make more if its employees are doing less!" remember that there's not less work being produced, but better. And if that doesn't convince you, ask Ryan Carson, the founder of Treehouse, who reports over $10 million in yearly sales and 120% annual revenue growth, not despite, but because his company uses a four-day workweek.

The shortened week can also help you save on other expenses. Research from Harvard and Stanford found that workplace stress costs the country anywhere between $125 billion to $190 billion dollars a year. Specifically, for employers, that means higher employee healthcare cost, lost clients due to poor customer service, and expensive employee turnover.

Four-day workweek options

So we've established that the four-day workweek is great in theory, now for the tricky part: finding a way to implement it. Not every option is going to be feasible at every organization or for every employee role. For example, it's not a good idea to give every employee in the customer service department Friday off, leaving no one to tend to customers on that day.

Some companies choose to use staggered four, 10-hour day schedules for their employees. Employees alternate between having Monday or Friday off, so there's always someone in the office working. While this model works well for a lot of companies, note that it does take a bit of planning and foresight.

Other companies, like Reusser Design, choose to change the hours of the entire business. They switched to a 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday schedule back in 2013. The biggest benefit they found in this change was the increased focus. With longer work days, employees were able to concentrate on projects longer improving the quality of what they produced.

Another option is having employees get bi-weekly days off. They work a full week and then a shortened one the following. This is a good way to reward hard work and allow employees to recharge every other week.  

Only offering four day work weeks part of the year is another possibility. Some companies like Basecamp shorten their weeks to 32 hours during the summer months. That way, employees get to enjoy their summers more.

Making a four-day workweek function is not easy. But when you look at the benefits that come along with it -- easier recruiting, happier, more productive employees, and higher profits -- there's no reason to not give it a try.

The four-day workweek won't be right for every company, but it's not an impossible perk to implement. By allowing employees to spend some time outside the office, you'll be improving work-life balance, increasing productivity, and attracting great talent.

What do you think about the four-day workweek? What's the best way for a company to make it work for them?

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of Pluto TV, Coplex, and Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.'s '30 Under 30' entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes and LinkedIn. You can keep up with Ilya on Twitter.

Published on: Aug 3, 2016
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