Attract and Retain Employees With One Change

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Attract and Retain Employees With One Change

Attract and Retain Employees With One Change

As the workforce development board serving Mecklenburg County, we want to help employers attract and retain talent and help job seekers gain meaningful employment. In this article, we are going to talk about a recent study that has shown that it is possible to achieve both goals with a single policy change.

Brief History of the Workweek in America

Before getting into the findings from the study, it is important to know some of the background of the US workweek.

The 40-hour workweek that we are used to today did not become official until being mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1940. Even though this happened around 83 years ago, advocates for an 8-hour workday can be seen as early as 1836. Over these 104-years, there were many steps toward a shorter workweek. The most popular was in 1914, when Henry Ford adopted an 8-hour day at the Ford Motor Company while also increasing pay and going from the typical 6-day workweek to 5 days. This change was looked down upon by its competitors until seeing Ford double its profit margin in just two years. There was also a brief period where a 30-hour workweek almost became the norm when a 1933 bill, passed by the US Senate, would have adopted it. This bill had initial support from President Roosevelt but was eventually dropped after opponent pushback.

The 40-hour workweek has remained mostly unchanged since becoming enacted, but many key figures expected it to continue shortening. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said that four hours of work a day would be “sufficient”, popular economist John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d have a 15-hour workweek by 2030, and a future 4-day workweek was promised to Americans by Richard Nixon.

This goes to show that improving work-life balance through the shortening of the workweek is not only part of American history, but it was also expected to continue as technology advanced.

UK’s Four-Day Workweek Experiment

So, what is this study that can help employers attract and retain talent while helping job seekers gain more meaningful employment?

It was the largest study on the effectiveness of a 4-day workweek. This study took place in the UK between June and December 2022 and consisted of 61 companies and over 2,900 workers. To give an example of the different types of companies involved in this experiment, here are a few of the employers and their industries. You can view a full list of the companies involved and see what other UK companies already have a 4-day workweek here.

                      • 24/Three Consultants – Construction/Architecture
                      • 5 Squirrels – Health Manufacturing and Retail
                      • Bookishly – Retail
                      • Charity Bank – Banking
                      • Evolution Money – Financial Services
                      • Literal Humans – Marketing/Advertising
                      • Plattens Fish and Chips – Hospitality
                      • Rivelin Robotics – Digital Manufacturing
                      • Tyler Grange – Environmental Consulting
                      • We Are Purposeful – Nonprofit

You can read their report to learn more about the specifics of the study but what is important is that the companies created their schedules based on business needs and were not required to follow a set schedule. Instead, they were just required to give a “meaningful” reduction in work time without reducing pay.

The 4-day workweek experiment was such a success that 56 of the 61 companies are going to continue offering a shortened schedule. Overall, there were many benefits from moving to a shorter schedule, three worth mentioning are:

                      • Improved mental health – 71% of workers had reduced levels of burnout.
                      • Increased productivity – Companies had a 35% increase in revenues when compared to similar periods in previous years.
                      • Retained talent – 57% decrease in the number of employees quitting.

Many employees also noted having an improved work-life balance. You can read more here about how a 4-day workweek can benefit workers, employers, the economy, society, and the environment.

A 4-Day Workweek in the US

A 4-day workweek is not something that is only desired by people in the UK. Many US companies are shifting to a shorter workweek. Some of the companies that are experimenting with shortened schedules are:

                      • Amazon
                      • Kickstarter
                      • Microsoft
                      • Panasonic
                      • Shopify
                      • Toshiba

You can view more here.

Our Working Parents survey showed us this was also valued locally, with some of the most important factors to respondents being: flexibility, hours of work, health and wellbeing, and company culture. A shortened schedule could help to bring back some of the parents that haven’t returned to the workforce.

The data that has been coming out regarding 4-day workweeks continues to be positive for both employers and employees. Since it is still in its preliminary stages, seeing more companies adopt it will give a better idea of how companies across different industries can implement it and how realistic it is.

As with any work-policy change, making the change to a shortened workweek is a big decision. But, if you are serious about attracting and retaining talent and value productivity over hours worked, it may be the right one.

If you want to know more about attracting and retaining talent at your company, reach out to us at


By: Ryan Nelson

Data Analyst

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