A new four-day work week trial that lasted over a year significantly reduced turnover and improved workers’ mental and physical health

A 15-month trial of the four-day work week in the UK has given proponents of the alternative schedule a big boost as researchers running the study said it significantly reduced turnover and improved both the physical and mental health of workers.

The experiment was introduced by South Cambridgeshire District Council in southeast England, who worked with researchers at Cambridge and Salford Universities. All totaled, 697 workers were involved in the trial.

Researchers assessed 24 different categories in determining the success or failure of the project. And in virtually every one, the shorter work week resulted in a significant boost.

Staff turnover fell 39% during the period extending from January 2023 through March 2024. In addition, there was a 53% increase in the number of applications for open roles.

Employee commitment to the job, motivation, mental and physical health all showed significant improvements. The trial saved the council more than $475,000 over the course of the program. And workers were more engaged.

“Some managers have found that the process of designing and delivering a four-day week trial has acted as a catalyst for further creativity, transformation, and innovation,” the report reads. “Colleagues have improved the efficiency of working practices within teams, used communication tools differently, and as colleagues have ownership of the trial, they have reported feeling valued and finding increased confidence.”

While England is bullish on the four-day work week, things are much different in Greece, where a 48-hour work week rule went into effect earlier this month for some workers. Select industrial and manufacturing facilities, along with businesses that provide 24/7 services, are eligible to extend the workweek beyond five days under the new labor laws. Food service and tourism workers are not included in the longer workweeks.

The change to the labor laws were approved last September and followed productivity issues in the country, which have led many workers to put in extra hours and often not be compensated for the time. Officials also note there has been a shortage of skilled workers due to a shrinking population.

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