In 1930, during the Great Depression, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that a 15-hour workweek would become a reality “within 100 years.” At the time of his prediction, the industrial revolution was in full swing, spurred on by ever increasing automation, which made the idea not so far-fetched.
Over the last 100 years we have experienced hyper-growth and unprecedented change in technology and the automation of things. In spite of all this, workers seem to be putting in as many hours as ever before. But there is still a movement promoting the benefits of working less and producing more.
The concept of the 4 day workweek is not new. It has been successfully implemented in a variety of settings, although it may not be right for every situation. For the purpose of this article, we will explore the pros and cons of a 4-day work week in the dealership setting, particularly as it pertains to service technicians.
Greater Productivity and Efficiency – In March and April 2018, a New Zealand firm ran an experiment that reduced their workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours, for all of its 240 employees, while still paying the same salaries.
The finding was that productivity increased to compensate for the lost day. Knowing that whatever you don’t finish on Thursday evening will have to wait for 3 days to complete can be quite the motivation to get the job done.
Better Work-Life Balance – According to business mogul Richard Branson, “By working more efficiently, there is no reason why people can’t work less hours and be equally–if not more–effective. People will need to be paid more for working less time, so they can afford more leisure time. That’s going to be a difficult balancing act to get right, but it can be done.”
Decreased Stress and Increased Job satisfaction – More time away from work is proven to promote greater happiness at work and in life. Happy workers reportedly engage better with their work, along with increased motivation and creativity, with less stress and a greater work-life balance. This could be a valuable incentive for attracting talent in a tough hiring market.
Energy Savings and Reduced Carbon Footprint – Spending one less day per week at work means one less day of electricity, water and other utilities used by that employee, as well as reduced workload for janitorial and other supporting services. A four-day workweek can also critically reduce each individual employee’s carbon footprint by reducing commuter pollution.
Customer Service Never Stops – In the automotive service industry, customer vehicles don’t stop breaking down on a long weekend. You can’t just close the shop 3 days per week and send everyone home. This is not to say that with proper scheduling you cannot stagger shifts so that everyone gets 3 (different) days off per week, but it is not realistic to send everyone home at the same time.
Might Require More Employees to Cover Shifts – If you are already struggling to fill positions, a 4-Day work week could be harder to navigate as it may necessitate the hiring of even more technicians to negotiate the scheduling challenges highlighted above. On the flip-side, however, offering a 4-day work week might make it easier to attract the additional talent required to make it work.
Potential to Pay More – Implementing a successful 4-day work week is a fine balancing act. Do it right, and the benefits are worth it. But do it wrong, and it could end up costing you more. With flat rate pay structures, there is also a likelihood that technicians will ignore the 4 day limit and work more days regardless.
Regardless of how it all pans out, it’s a good time to start experimenting. If you’re interested in a 4-day workweek, test it out at your dealership in a limited trial and see if your team can accomplish more by working less.