With employers offering more choices in terms of work/life balance, a four-day work week is being considered.
In the 21st Century, many companies, big and small, take into consideration the needs of employees to deal with issues outside of work. Flexible work hours and ample personal time are all features of employee benefits for many Americans today.
An idea that has been floated for decades is gathering greater steam now in response to the trend toward functional work hour systems. Many companies are now offering four-hour work weeks, replacing the long-standing standard of a five-day, 40-hour week.
It may be that the time has come for more employers to consider four-day work weeks. A Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner study of affluent investors shows that 70 percent of investors consider a four-day work week to be a valid idea.
The concept is more valid among females (82 percent) than males (62 percent), and more popular with the less-wealthy investors. Among investors with a net worth under $1 million, 77 percent like the idea but among investors with a net worth over $1 million, only 60 percent agree with the concept. Still, that is a majority.
As expected, business owners are not so enamored, as only 47 percent said they like the idea of a four-day work week. Fifty-six percent of corporate executives bought into the idea. It is also more popular with unmarried investors (82 percent) than the married ones (66 percent).
Eighty-four percent of investors under the age of 40 like the idea, but only 62 percent of those over the age of 60 agree.
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There is also some question about how many hours a day an employee would work in a four-day work week. Given a choice between four eight-hour days and four 10-hour days, 76 percent of investors who approved of the idea in the first place said it should be a 10-hour work day.
The eight-hour work day in a four-day work week was more popular with the segments that liked the concept of the four-day work week to begin with. Thirty-one percent of females liked the idea of an eight-hour day, and 34 percent of investors with a net worth under $100,000 were in favor. On the other side, only 12 percent of corporate executives could endorse an eight-hour day.
The youngsters were in favor of the eight-hour day. Forty-two percent of investors under the age of 40 said 36 hours a week was enough.
In the tech world, where employees are valued and employers have to worry about their employees being recruited elsewhere, the four-day work week is becoming a standard perk.
The owners of Treehouse, a company which develops online courses in website-building and code writing, uses its 36-hour four-day work week as a recruiting tool, but they don’t mention it until they know they have a future employee on the hook.
“At first, we didn’t tell candidates about the four-day week (right away) because we really wanted people who were passionate about our mission of low-cost online education,’’ said company owner Ray Carson to CNN Money. “But we started mentioning the short week up front when we realized what an advantage it is in attracting top talent.”
The invention of the standard five-day, 40-hour work week came after workers complained about long work hours during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. In 1840, President Martin van Buren established a 10-hour, five-day work week for laborers in an executive order, but it was not until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1936 that a 40-hour, five-day work week became the standard.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average work week in America actually fell to 33 hours a week during the early years of the depression as employers tried to parse hours and among its workers to avoid layoffs. But much of the rest of the developed world works less than that.
According to the OECD, the average worker in the Netherlands and Norway work only 27 hours a week. In France and Belgium, it is 30 hours and week, and in Spain, Denmark and Ireland the average is 31 hours a week.
There are numerous studies that show that better work is done in a four-day work week than in a five-day work week.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.