BYU Study Predicts Benefits from Shorter Week

Utah's Aug. 4 implementation of a four-day work week could result in higher job satisfaction and lower levels of work-family conflict, according to a Brigham Young University (BYU) study. Those benefits translate into higher productivity, researchers say.

Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth of BYU's Romney Institute of Public Management examined the outcome of a Utah city's transition to a schedule in which most employees worked four 10-hour days a week. Their paper appears in the June issue of Review of Public Personnel Administration.

The research was conducted among Spanish Fork City employees, many of whom have four-day work weeks. Salt Lake, West Valley, Provo, West Jordan, and Draper are among other Utah cities that offer similar programs.

According to Facer, Utah cities embraced the new schedule to both save money on utilities and also to give citizens a wider range of times to access city hall. Now they may be reaping the morale and retention benefits among employees who save on fuel costs by commuting one fewer day each week.

BYU researchers found that even though shorter week employees work the same number of hours as their traditional work counterparts, they reported being more satisfied with their jobs, compensation, and benefits, and were less likely to look for employment elsewhere in the next year.

"I am hopeful that the state's move to a four-day work week will be a positive one," said Wadsworth. "There are going to be very real benefits for employees, specifically decreased gas cost, decreased commute time (both because they only have to commute four days, but also because they'll be commuting during off-peak times, so the commute could potentially be shorter each day), and hopefully, improved work-life balance."

Among the most significant findings was the four-day work week's connection to conflicts between work and home. The four-day work week employees were less likely to report that they come home too tired, that work takes away from personal interest, and that work takes time they would like to spend with family. Other studies have linked work-home conflict with low job performance and lessened productivity.

Other findings in the study show:

  • More than 60 percent of four day work week employees reported higher productivity as a result of the 4/10 schedule.
  • More than 60 percent of employees reported agreement that citizen access has improved as a result of the four-day work week.

Facer and Wadsworth are conducting a nationwide study involving about 150 municipal human resources directors aimed at learning more about alternative work schedules and their effects in communities.

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