Revolutionising the Workweek: SA Corporates Contemplate a four-Day Model
15 Jun, 2023

René Richter, Managing Director of Remchannel (Pty) Ltd

 

A ground-breaking new Remchannel survey indicates a surge in awareness and positive sentiment among South African corporate companies about implementing a four-day workweek model.

 

Remchannel Managing Director Rene Richter says the survey, conducted among 85 notable corporate companies across various sectors, reveals that despite only a marginal number of firms currently experimenting with the four-day workweek, over 80% of the respondents were aware of trials within the South African business community.

 

The shift towards this innovative working model signifies an evolving corporate landscape in South Africa as businesses explore efficient strategies to align with their employees’ needs and enhance productivity.

 

Various countries, including the UK, New Zealand and Japan, have conducted trials for a four-day workweek. The general trend points towards a positive association between a 4-day work week and improved employee morale, reduced burnout, and maintained or even increased productivity. Critics argue that it is only feasible for some sectors, particularly service-based industries, and could increase pressure and workload during the shortened week.

 

In the Remchannel survey, 72% of the respondents believe this scheduling adaptation can significantly improve talent retention. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority are confident that a 4-day work week could bolster employee work-life balance.

 

“The findings of our survey highlight the ongoing evolution in South Africa’s corporate sector,” says Richter. Companies are increasingly considering the 4-day workweek model as an opportunity to better align with the needs of their employees, and in turn, increase productivity.”

 

Among the most significant findings in favour of a four-day workweek are the following:

 

  • 80% of employers had heard of the four-day workweek trial in South Africa;
  • 55% believe that it can lead to cost savings;
  • 62% believe it can lead to increased productivity;
  • 60% believe the model can improve employee performance;
  • 88% believe it can improve employees’ work-life balance;
  • 58% said their employees would prefer it; and
  • 71% say it would increase talent retention.

 

However, the research also indicated significant challenges in implementing this model. A key barrier identified was the disparity between companies viewing this shift as a cost-reducing measure, potentially involving pay cuts, and employees being unwilling to accept such a reduction. This divergence of perspectives represents a crucial impasse that businesses must navigate carefully.

 

An overwhelming 77% of respondents said employees would not be prepared to take a pay cut if offered the opportunity to work a four-day workweek, and 88% said specific industries or job roles were better suited for such a schedule.

 

Richter further comments, “The challenge lies in finding a mutually beneficial solution. The introduction of a four-day workweek should not compromise employees’ remuneration. Innovative working models should aim to boost productivity while maintaining, if not improving, the current wage structures.”

 

She notes that businesses should be open to exploring various alternatives, such as a flexible 40-hour workweek, not confined by specific days. This model allows for distributed work hours across the week, such as half days over a seven-day period, adding another layer of adaptability to the evolving work landscape.

 

“This adaptability could provide the balance between maintaining productivity and meeting the changing needs of the workforce. The survey opens up a meaningful dialogue on the future of work in South Africa. As companies continue experimenting and adapting to new models, the corporate landscape is anticipated to shift dramatically in the coming years, driven by the dual goals of enhancing employee well-being and optimising productivity,” Richter concludes.

 

ENDS

 

For more information on the survey or to discuss the future of work in South Africa, contact rene.richter@remchannel.com.

Author

@René Richter
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