This week, John McDonnell announced at the Labour Conference his vision for Britain to work the shortest hours in Europe within a decade if the Labour party come to power.
What is being proposed?
Labour are proposing a 32 hours (or four day) working week, with no reduction in pay for the employee. This could also be coupled with increased Public Holidays, which Labour previously campaigned for during the 2017 election.
“We should work to live, not live to work. As society got richer, we could spend fewer hours at work. “But in recent decades progress has stalled, and since the 1980’s the link between increasing productivity and expanding free time has been broken. It’s time to put that right.” John McDonnell
This is supported by recent research on Burnout Brits from Think Money, who looked into the most overworked regions of the UK, finding that employees in Scotland and the East of England work the most hours – at a staggering 287 working days per year!
Employees in Wales spend less time on the job – working on average 277 days per year!
What do people think of a Four-Day Week?
Shortly after Labour announced their plans to reduce the working week, business owners immediately baulked at the prospect of having to pay staff the same wage for fewer hours of output. It was highlighted that many industries, in particular retail and manufacturing were already working to tight margins, and the regulatory burden of increasing National Minimum Wage and pensions could already be, in part, attributed to some of the casualties we have seen on the high street in recent years.
We asked our very own BusinessComparison MD Phillip Brennan what we thought of the proposals…
Phillip told us, “Four-day weeks sound fantastic and in some industries, there could be an argument that it will increase productivity and efficiency. It would force organisations to be more disciplined on whether certain meetings are necessary and encourage them to look at ways to streamline processes to make them more effective, with the result being an extra day for employees to spend with their families which in turn improves employee well-being and reduces workplace stress.
At BusinessComparison employee well-being is a top priority, we already partake in modern practices such as bringing your dog to work, staff trips away and flexible working. Our people are our greatest asset and when you look after your people, they will look after your business.
If this policy is eventually implemented, the businesses who embrace the change will see the greatest benefit in their employee satisfaction, retention and productivity”
The hidden benefits of a Four Day Week
Although these plans are purely speculative at the moment, they could signal a step change in future working habits.
Closing the office one day per week would generate savings in business energy, possible reduce the mileage and travel expense cost carried by come businesses and the coffee and toilet rolls would definitely need replacing less!
So long as productivity and outputs are not compromised, perhaps this really is the way forward in reducing workplace stress and improving work life balance?