Empowering Employees: SEJ CEO’s Interview on the Flourishing Four-Day Workweek

by / ⠀Featured News / July 27, 2023
Empowering Employees: SEJ CEO's Interview on the Flourishing Four-Day Workweek

The traditional five-day workweek has long been the standard for businesses around the world. However, a growing body of research suggests that a four-day workweek could provide numerous benefits for both employees and businesses.

In this article, we will explore the feasibility and advantages of transitioning to a four-day workweek, based on insights from a study conducted by 4 Day Week Global and the experiences of Search Engine Journal (SEJ) CEO, Jenise Uehara. By examining the potential impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, work-life balance, and business performance, we will present an interesting case for rethinking traditional work schedules and embracing a more balanced, efficient, and sustainable approach.

The Study: Unveiling the Potential of a Four-Day WorkweekThe study conducted by 4 Day Week Global involved approximately 200 organizations participating in year-long pilot programs to evaluate the impact of reduced hours on various aspects of work. The approach was based on the 100-80-100 model, designed by Charlotte Lockhart and inspired by the successful Perpetual Guardian trial in 2018. Under this model, employees receive 100% of their pay for working 80% of the time while committing to delivering 100% of the output. The ultimate goal of 4 Day Week Global is to make a four-day workweek the new default and reduced working time the new standard.

Enhancing Work-Life Balance and Employee SatisfactionOne of the key findings of the study was that adopting a four-day workweek while maintaining pay can greatly enhance work-life balance and employee satisfaction. Over the course of the six-month trial, employees worked nearly five fewer hours per week on average compared to the baseline of 38 hours, resulting in an average workweek of just under 33 hours by the end of the trial. Despite the reduction in hours, employees said they had positive experiences during the shortened workweeks, rating their satisfaction a remarkable 9 out of 10 after the trial ended.

Improving Physical and Mental HealthIn addition to the positive impact on work-life balance and job satisfaction, employees participating in the pilot program reported improvements in their self-assessed physical and mental health. These gains were attributed to the enhanced work-life balance enabled by the reduced hours. Lead researcher Professor Juliet Schor of Boston College noted that the continued reduction in working hours did not come at the cost of increased work intensity. On the contrary, people operated more efficiently and continued to improve their capabilities as the year progressed.

Impressive Outcomes: Boosting Business Performance and Employee Well-beingThe study examined 41 companies in the United States and Canada that implemented a four-day workweek for a six-month period. The vast majority of the feedback on the trial was positive, with none of the companies planning to return to the traditional five-day workweek. On a scale of 1 to 10, the companies rated the overall experience an impressive 8.7. They were particularly satisfied with the positive impact on business productivity, performance, and the ability to attract talented employees.

Moreover, the pilot program resulted in a significant increase in average revenue for the participating companies. Throughout the six-month period, average revenue went up by a remarkable 15%. This increase in revenue was achieved while maintaining the same staffing levels, demonstrating the potential of a four-day workweek to sustain or even improve business results.

The positive outcomes of the pilot program were not limited to financial performance. Employees also experienced a range of benefits during the four-day workweek trial. 95% of employees expressed a desire to continue with the shortened week after the trial ended. Furthermore, 69% reported feeling less burned out, and 40% reported decreased stress levels. The trial period also led to a significant increase in environmentally conscious behaviors, with 42% of workers engaging in activities such as purchasing eco-friendly products, recycling, and choosing sustainable transportation options.

SEJ CEO Reflects on the Success of the Four-Day WorkweekThe success of the four-day workweek is not limited to research studies. Real-world examples, such as the experience of Search Engine Journal (SEJ), provide further evidence of its effectiveness. SEJ CEO Jenise Uehara initially had reservations about transitioning to a four-day workweek but decided to give it a try.

The implementation of the four-day schedule at SEJ was preceded by extensive research and planning carried out by the company’s staff. A committee of employees studied best practices for maintaining productivity and assessed workflow and time management strategies. The company’s efforts paid off, as they experienced a 22% increase in sales compared to the previous year while maintaining the same headcount.

Uehara credits improved productivity and streamlined work practices for the company’s success with the four-day workweek. The team tested several productivity tools such as Slack, Google Suite, Asana, and Loom videos. They adopted the tools that worked best for them and integrated them into their work practices. Scheduled focus time, asynchronous communication, and video meetings replaced live meetings, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity.

Another key strategy employed by Uehara and her team was letting go of control and addressing perfectionism. They realized that hoarding power and control, as well as perfectionism, can lead to burnout and disengagement. By empowering their team members and pushing authority downwards and outwards, they were able to create a more productive and fulfilling work environment.

Easing Clients’ Concerns and Embracing Work-Life BalanceWhen implementing the four-day workweek at SEJ, Uehara made the decision not to inform clients beforehand to avoid concerns about the change. The goal was to seamlessly maintain the high standards of service while transitioning to the new schedule. This approach proved successful, and the clients remained satisfied with the level of service provided.

The transition to a four-day workweek also had a positive impact on Uehara’s work-life balance. She reevaluated her work methods, transitioning from constant multitasking to a more prioritized approach. By taming the urge to address every notification or request in real time, she became more responsive to her team and experienced a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Sustainability and Advice for Companies Considering a Four-Day WorkweekWhen asked about the long-term prospects of sticking to the four-day workweek, Uehara expressed optimism. As long as productivity levels can be maintained, she believes that the four-day workweek can continue to be successful.

For other companies considering a transition to a four-day workweek, Uehara offers valuable advice. She emphasizes the importance of involving staff from the early stages of exploration and allowing them to lead the implementation process. Employees are the ones who understand the intricacies of the work and can provide valuable insights and recommendations. Uehara also suggests setting clear program goals and measuring success against those goals throughout the implementation process.

In Summary: Embracing a New Standard of WorkThe evidence from both research studies and real-world examples suggests that a four-day workweek can bring numerous benefits to employees and businesses. By adopting this approach, companies can enhance work-life balance, improve employee satisfaction, boost productivity, and even see an increase in revenue. However, the transition requires careful planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring of results. As businesses strive for a more sustainable future of work, the four-day workweek presents a promising roadmap to empower employees and create a healthier, more productive work environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is a four-day workweek?

A: A four-day workweek is a schedule in which employees work for four days a week instead of the traditional five days, while still maintaining the same level of pay.

Q: What are the benefits of a four-day workweek?

A: A four-day workweek can provide several benefits, including improved work-life balance, increased employee satisfaction, enhanced productivity, reduced burnout, and even positive environmental impact.

Q: Does a four-day workweek affect business performance?

A: Research suggests that a four-day workweek can have a positive impact on business performance. Companies that have implemented a shorter workweek have reported increased revenue, improved employee morale, and the ability to attract top talent.

Q: How can companies maintain productivity with a shorter workweek?

A: To maintain productivity, companies can experiment with productivity tools, optimize workflow and time management practices, and empower employees to take ownership of their work. Clear communication, efficient use of technology, and a focus on prioritization can all contribute to maintaining productivity during a four-day workweek.

Q: Is a four-day workweek feasible for all industries?

A: While a four-day workweek may not be feasible for all industries, many companies across various sectors have successfully implemented this schedule. It is important for businesses to analyze their operations and workforce needs to determine if a shorter workweek is suitable for their specific industry.

Q: How can companies transition to a four-day workweek?

A: Transitioning to a four-day workweek requires careful planning and implementation. Involving employees from the early stages, setting clear goals, and measuring success are important steps. It is also crucial to address any concerns from clients or stakeholders and ensure that productivity and quality standards are maintained throughout the transition.

Q: What are the long-term prospects of a four-day workweek?

A: The long-term prospects of a four-day workweek depend on the ability to maintain productivity and achieve business goals. With proper planning and execution, a four-day workweek can be a sustainable and successful approach to work, benefiting both employees and businesses.

About The Author

Joe Rothwell