According to research, a shortened week experiment in Wales will result in the creation of thousands of jobs

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The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has urged the Welsh government to test a shorter work week, which may result in thousands of new employment and a happier and healthier workforce.

Sophie Howe, whose job entails safeguarding future generations’ interests under the country’s Well-being of Future Generations Act, said a shorter work week appealed to her because it could boost productivity, improve work-life balance, and help people care for loved ones as the population ages and demand for care rises.

According to a report published by the Future Generations Commissioner and think-tank Autonomy, there is significant public support for a shorter working week in Wales, with 57 percent saying they would support a four-day week pilot by the Welsh government and 62 percent saying they would prefer to work a four-day week or less.

According to the research, a possible shift to a shortened work week should include three steps:

  • In some sections of the public sector, reducing and testing the implementation of  lowered working hours.
  • Encourage and assist private sector businesses in making the transition to shorter workweeks.
  • Collaboration with and empowerment of trade unions in order to negotiate lower work hours.

According to the report, a four-day week in the Welsh public sector would:

  • Create 37,859 employment, with 26,951 full-time positions.
  • Amounting to 10.5 percent of the total pay cost in the public sector, or 6.7 percent if exclusively for full-time employees.
  • Amount equal to 2.5 percent of current public sector spending in Wales.

“A shorter work week may lead to higher productivity, which will be a major advantage to companies in terms of a happier, healthier workforce,” Howe added.

“Because the working week hasn’t changed in over a century, now appears to be the ideal time for the Welsh government to commit to a trailblazing experiment and develop evidence for broader reform throughout Wales.”

“All the data shows that a shorter working week with no loss of income would be a win-win for both employees and businesses in Wales,” said Will Stronge, co-director of Autonomy.

“Countries all over the world, including Scotland and Ireland, have already started experimenting with four-day weeks, and a progressive Welsh government should be at the forefront of this as well.”

“Moving to a four-day week would increase productivity and worker well-being while also creating tens of thousands of additional jobs in the Welsh public sector,” says the report. “The potential benefits are much too great to overlook.”

According to the survey, present job constraints have left many individuals in Wales with little time for self-care, relaxation, exercise, or good food. People with pre-existing health conditions were particularly concerned about working hours.

“At the present, there aren’t enough hours in the day,” one worker explained to researchers. “In my spare time, I have to pick between studies and family.” This is bad for all of us because we don’t spend enough time together, and it’s bad for my mental health since I’m always feeling guilty. I wouldn’t have to make that tough choice if I worked a few days fewer.”

It also says that a shortened working week will cut carbon emissions by reducing commute time. A separate Autonomy analysis estimated that a four-day week would cut UK carbon emissions by 117,000 tonnes per week throughout the economy (equivalent to removing 1.3 million cars off the road annually).

Shorter workweeks may be pushed in the private sector, according to the research, through public procurement techniques and a “working time committee” composed of trade unions, legislators, and enterprises.

According to the report, the majority of medium- and large-sized Welsh businesses can afford to reduce their working hours in the long run. Working time reduction was found to be an achievable aim for the majority of the private sector in Wales after an initial “stress test” simulation.

Since it was implemented in 2020, productivity, wellness, and turnover have improved at Slunks hair salon in Cardiff, which operates a four-day week with no pay cut for full-time employees.

“I’ve seen young individuals in the profession turn to drugs and alcohol because they’re weary and don’t have the time to make adjustments in their lives,” said owner Joel McCauley. Six-day weeks, back-to-back clients, and hopping from job to job because they don’t have time to think about or plan what they’ll do next.

“Anxiety is common in the profession, and I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression as a result of the number of hours I worked.” I’d reached the end of my rope.

“Working a shorter week is simply a better, healthier method of working.”

“You may think about life in a new way when you have more time.” You’ll probably have more energy at work and have fewer non-productive days. You can be a better person, a better parent, and a better community member outside of work.”

Although it seems that a 4-day work week is in its initial testing stages – for this to be adopted across businesses in the near future as a norm doesn’t seem likely. However that doesn’t mean that you can’t help support your employee health and particularly mental stability – find out how HealthBoxHR can help your business tackle and support your employee mental health with our Mental Health Management Tool.

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