In December of 2022, the Independence School District near Kansas City, MO announced that it would be moving to a 4-day school week.  Dale Herl, the Superintendent, indicated that the primary driver to moving to a 4-day week was staff recruitment and retention.  As the measure was being discussed, the district saw a 40% increase in applications before the policy was even approved by their board of directors.  

Independence isn’t alone.  They join over 140 other school districts in the state of Missouri that have implemented the 4-day work week. In the state of Colorado, 70% of school districts have gone to 4-days. (SOURCE: ABC7CHICAGO.COM)

Is this a new trend?  Will 4-day workweeks become the new normal?  Will business owners need to consider longer weekends?  Should employees expect it?

The answer is not that clear. In short, here are some thoughts on this trend.  

  • The shortage on labor wasn’t caused by the pandemic and it won’t be cured by the end of the pandemic.  The shortage is a demographic issue caused by the large Boomer generation exiting the workforce with incoming Gen Z workers unable to fill the positions.  It’s simply a numbers game and the deficit in workers will get worse through 2030. 
  • Employers will need to get increasingly creative with employee benefits.  The 4-day work week is a potentially powerful option for many types of organizations but might not be an option for others.  There are many other creative employee benefits out there beyond traditional benefits such as salary, retirement, and insurance.  Employees are placing increasing value on experiences and the work-life integration.  Many employers (including People Centric) create highly flexible work schedules and even open-time off policies where vacation and time off is not tracked (check out our bonus podcast episode to learn more).
  • The most powerful benefit for any employee is creating a work environment where people can use their strengths towards a clear and common purpose with others.  In other words, engaged employees are much more likely to stay in a job and less likely to leave for a little extra pay or some time off.  However, if employers fall too far behind in pay or benefits, even engaged employees might be tempted to move.
  • It does not serve employees well to start to demand these benefits from employers, especially if the demands are unrealistic or impractical.  The best approach is to try to work with your company and your manager. When employees work to build trusted relationships with their managers, they become more influential.  As this trust is built up, employers are more likely to consider employee suggestions.  But when suggestions are presented in the form of demands, the trust is eroded, often resulting in a fight.

  • If you are an employer who is frustrated with poor benefits from your employer and you are adding lots of value with a great attitude, it might be time to find a new job.  The good news for employees is that there are many options out there.  

If you are looking to attract and retain employees, going to a 4-day work week might be an opportunity, but it won’t be the silver bullet.  The real silver bullet is to empower and align your team, regardless of environment.


Want More Info on this Topic? 

Listen to this episode of the People Centric Podcast:

Or Watch it Here: