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Is a 4 day work week the cure to burnout?

49% of employees across the globe have reported feeling at least somewhat burned-out with 21% reporting feeling high to very-high degree of burnout, according to a study from McKinsey. Statistics that, according to McKinsey, may be an underrepresentation of the real number because burned-out workers are less likely to answer surveys or have already left their jobs due to the stress.

This isn't the first time I've talked about burnout and it probably won't be the last. That's because I truly believe that there is a better way for us to work and live...and it seems that organizations are starting to see the benefit of shifting the work culture to support healthier, happier employees.

More companies are experimenting with a 4 day work week as a way to combat increased global levels of burnout among employees. Economist Juliet Schor is "leading four-day work week trials in countries like the US and Ireland, and the results so far have been overwhelmingly positive: from increased employer and customer satisfaction to revenue growth and lower turnover."

As an entrepreneur, it's hard to imagine a 4 day work week, since my norm is working weekends and around my clinic commitments. I may have to reconsider this after watching this 12 minute video, where Schor makes a compelling case for a 4 day work week.

Healthwise (a health education and technology non-profit) implemented the 4 day work week model (with 5 day pay) after their employees were quitting in droves due to burnout. After 6 months, the organization reported employees were dramatically happier and more productive. Other initiatives in Europe have reported similar findings when implementing a 32 hour work week:

  • a decrease in physical and mental stress

  • an increase in work ethic

  • improved job satisfaction

  • better work-life balance

  • improved energy levels

  • increased productivity and service quality

Schor describes how this work model not only addresses pandemic burnout and depression, but also racial and economic inequality, and the climate crisis. It may be too soon to tell, but it seems like a step in the right direction for a work culture that values the quality of life of people, over production.


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