Is the four day work week a new opportunity for hospitality?

There has been increased discussions and trials testing out a four-day week over a six-month period. The four-day working week being offered within hospitality is not always possible due to staff numbers but is it an opportunity worth exploring to offer flexibility and attract more to the industry? Undoubtedly, the four-day working week is highly appealing for employees as they would have an additional day off with no reduction in pay and receive all the associated work/life balance, but are there as many benefits for the employer?

Over 3,000 employees across 70 organisations took part in a six-month trial, and the study found that 63% of businesses find it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4-day week. They also found that 78% of employees with a 4-day week are happier and less stressed. The four-day week advocated is a flexible model that is not a rigid ‘one size fits all’ approach. The research found that the successful businesses who move to a 4-day week radically shorten and reform meetings, use technology more thoughtfully and redesign the workday to structure clear work periods, meetings, and social time. Whether businesses trial a four-day working week or not, is there an opportunity to learn from research founded by the four-day working week trials to optimise productivity?

Research suggests that a four-day week can also have societal benefits, as it improves gender equality as it encourages a better distribution of domestic responsibilities and helps remove barriers to women remaining in employment, taking on leadership roles and pursuing training opportunities. Could adopting a four- day working week assist recruitment and retention of employees by offering something more flexible? Are there also environmental factors to consider in whether a four-day working week would be considered? Having employees in an office only four days a week can reduce the carbon footprint and costs for both the employee and employer. Could the four-day week become a talking point when discussing ESG within businesses?

Mindsets are beginning to shift, with more people believing it is possible to do five days’ worth of work within four days. Sceptics argue that extra hours are to be made up throughout the four-day week, which can cause added stress and bring on burnout. However, if guided by a strong management team, surely this can be prevented and avoided? Within hospitality, supporting staff welfare and wellbeing all whilst accommodating lifestyle needs might mean being open to more than just a one-size-fits-all approach to contract hours. For four-day working weeks to be possible does the issue of staff numbers need to be addressed first or will offering 4-day weeks help to address the staffing issue; this is a chicken and egg question of which would come first. It has also been suggested that Generation Z in particular look for more benefits within their employment than the salary itself. Could offering a four-day week attract more members of Generation Z to hospitality? Does the four-day working week assist in attracting talented candidates who want a better work-life balance?

A downfall of the hospitality industry seen by many is the lack of flexibility it offers, but this gives a great opportunity for change and a useful tool in attracting talent whilst offering work hours that suit

the individual. The question is whether employers are willing to design an approach to the four-day work week that works for them as an organisation.

Written by Izzy Mchattie, EP Business in Hospitality