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1 in 3 workers expect 4-day weeks by 2030, survey finds

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Employees also want full flexibility and hybrid working models to become standard practice, according to HR firm ADP.

By Christine Chen 9 minute read

One in three employees expect to have four-day weeks in five years and businesses should embrace the arrangement when incentives like raises or remote work are off the table, according to HR support firm ADP. 

Regional managing director Kylie Baullo said the once “distant dream” of a truncated week was becoming a tangible reality as more people became aware of its benefits for employee mental health and work/life balance.

“Numerous businesses are already reaping the advantages of this,” she said.

“If a four-day working week aligns with business needs, enabling workers to achieve a better work-life balance without compromising productivity, this will result in a mutually beneficial outcome for all,” she said.

One in 10 respondents to ADP’s People at Work 2023 survey said a shorter working week was already offered by their employer as a mental health initiative, up 8.6 per cent from last year.

“The fact that an increasing number of companies are utilising a four-day week as a means to enhance mental health wellbeing highlights the significant transformations in the workforce over the past few years,” Ms Baullo said.

Salary was still seen as the most important contributor to workplace satisfaction at 58 per cent, compared to flexible hours at 40 per cent and “enjoyment of day at work” at 48 per cent.

But a shorter work week was often in the interest of all parties when traditional incentives like pay rises or remote work arrangements were unsuitable, Ms Baullo said.

“Employers should explore innovative ways to ensure employee satisfaction, loyalty, motivation, and talent retention. They need to think outside the box,” she said.

Some workers even valued paid time off as much as pay rises, the survey found.

Around 40 per cent said they would be happy to accept additional days of annual leave or paid time off as an alternative to receiving a bonus. Over one-third of respondents would accept one-off holiday or merit bonuses.

In the next five years, they also expected flexible working options and entitlements to change, with 13 per cent of respondents saying it would be normal to purchase additional holiday allowance and 12.5 per cent believing they would be able to reduce their salary in return for more annual leave.

One-quarter of employees wanted employers to offer full flexibility of hours by 2030 and 23 per cent expected a hybrid working model to become “standard practice” in that time.

The majority of workers (86 per cent) were satisfied with their current employment and 80 per cent were optimistic about the next five years.

“Employers need to enable and follow through on flexible policies and innovative offerings to meet the evolving expectations of Australian workers. Those who do will benefit in hiring and retention and in building their employer brand,” the report said. 

The findings were part of a worldwide survey of 32,612 workers across 17 countries conducted by ADP between October 28 and November 18, 2022. This included over 1,400 Australian workers.

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