Survey: Workers Really Love the Idea of a Four-Day Week

A survey by Resume Builder found that workers want a four-day workweek for better work-life balance.
Taryn Phaneuf
By Taryn Phaneuf 
Edited by Rick VanderKnyff

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The idea of a four-day workweek is so popular with some workers that they’d be willing to take a pay cut to make it happen, according to a new survey.

The survey, which included 1,250 people who work full time, was conducted in April by Resume Builder, a career services company. It found that 8 in 10 workers would be excited to work 32 hours a week instead of 40 because they believe it would help them achieve better work-life balance, improve their health, mitigate burnout, be more productive and reduce commuting costs.

The survey results suggest some workers feel pretty desperate for that better work experience. Even though nearly all the survey participants (94%) said they could do the same amount of work in fewer hours, about 21% said they would take a pay cut if it meant they could work the equivalent of one less day per week.

In addition, 83% of respondents said they would prefer a four-day, 40-hour workweek to the current standard of 40 hours in five days.

“I think people value time now more than they ever have — especially younger generations,” says Julia Toothacre, resume and career strategist with Resume Builder.

Idea of a four-day workweek is catching on

The four-day workweek is still a long way from becoming the norm in the U.S., Toothacre says. But the idea has picked up steam in recent years because it’s seen as a way to address the impact of work stress and long hours.

Roughly 3 out of 4 workers said they experienced work-related stress in the last month, according to the 2023 Work in America Survey by the American Psychological Association. More than half said that stress resulted in an array of negative effects, including emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation, a desire to quit, lower productivity and irritability.

There’s some interest in making the four-day workweek a national policy. In March, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a bill that would standardize a 32-hour workweek without cutting workers’ pay or benefits. But it’s not expected to go anywhere.

Pilot programs show promising results

Instead, the four-day workweek has gained the most traction through companies’ participation in pilot programs. Organizations around the world have tested it out, and the results are pretty positive. In 2022, a pilot program that included 33 U.S. companies found that most of them wanted to continue with the 32-hour schedule after the trial period ended.

The companies involved in this pilot didn’t make any changes to workers’ pay. And it turns out that’s for good reason: The companies reported that productivity was positively affected by the new schedule. Workers at the participating companies said their job performance improved during the course of the trial.

In the trial, companies got rid of meetings and other unnecessary activities to free up workers’ time, according to Boston College researchers who evaluated the results. Wen Fan, a sociology professor, said in a December 2022 news release that the program worked as expected. “Hours reduced, well-being improved, and key organizational bottom-lines sustained — all of these happened without the need for workers to intensify their work demands.”