In the four-day workweek trials that have taken place in Canada and the U.S., there’s evidence that a shorter week can support higher levels of employee health and happiness while reducing burnout, says Grace Tallon, chief operating officer at the Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence.

According to a recent survey by the organization, 42 per cent of people working 40-plus hours were burnt out, as opposed to nine per cent of those who worked reduced hours.

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“In Canada, every week we’re seeing big companies interested in trying this and seeing how it will work in their organization. I suppose it’s primarily [led by the private sector] here, but companies are seeing it’s allowing them to attract and retain talent and their revenue is going up. It’s really transformative for employees and for businesses. So all the success stories are showing this trend will only continue to go up.”

Amid a skilled labour shortage in Germany, 45 companies are currently piloting a four-day workweek led by consulting firm Intraprenör in collaboration with the non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global. That organization held a similar pilot in the U.K. in 2022 and, among 61 participating employers, 91 per cent said they’re continuing with a four-day workweek.

Work-time reduction challenges people to improve their work practices, she adds, but the positive results aren’t necessarily automatic. “It’s not that you reduce your work time and suddenly you’re more productive. Making a work-time reduction project successful involves fundamentally redesigning how you work. So you need to go back to the drawing board, look at your practices and processes and change how you actually do business in order for this to work.”

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Tallon notes the reason some companies have failed is because they don’t do the necessary work at the beginning and make changes within the organization to ensure success over a longer period of time.

In Canada, there’s an opportunity for provincial governments to take a more proactive approach in supporting a shortened workweek, she adds. “I’m not talking about mandatory legislation here, but there is definitely a role for governments in incentivizing businesses to assess work-time reduction across different industries.”

Tallon also believes younger workers are the ones really pushing the four-day workweek because they recognize the potential for change.

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