"Reworked" Aussies want a 4-day week

“Reworked” Aussies want a 4-day week

One in three Australians would leave their current job for a company that offers a four-day work week in order to achieve a better work-life balance, new research has found.

Young Aussies, driving the quiet-quitting trend, are particularly keen to reduce their working hours, with 40 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 willing to move to a company offering a four-day workweek, by comparison 26 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds found work at the consulting firm Future X Collective.

While some Australian companies like Unilever, the multinational behind a catalog of 400 products including Dove soap, Magnum ice cream and Lynx, are leading the four-day workweek movement, many are still reluctant despite record levels of burnout.

Unilever said this month it would test the four-day workweek at its Australian operations after seeing success at its New Zealand firm, where employees chose the day or number of hours that worked best for them to take off.

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Future X Collective co-founder Angela Ferguson said many employees are feeling the onset of fatigue and burnout.

“While this year has sparked a bigger debate than ever about flexible working, mental health and short-time work, many Australians feel this is more talk than action,” she said.

“It’s important to recognize that many Australian companies are not yet ready to move to a four-day work week, should that be an option. However, they could have open discussions with their board members and employees about the suitability of a four-day workweek.

“Meanwhile, employers need to find a way to support workers who are feeling overworked in a proactive rather than reactive way, and to walk the talk.”

However, the study also found that 45 per cent of Australians believe their job requires them to work more than four days a week, with 19 per cent saying their job would be too concerned about lost productivity to make the shift.

“I would worry there will be pressure to continue working on day five anyway,” said a 24-year-old Sydney communications officer involved in the investigation.

“If everyone doesn’t have the same day off, people will bug you on your day off about so-called critical/urgent things.”

Still, a global effort has prompted some Australian companies to move towards a four-day work week with no pay cuts as employee burnout and the aftermath of brutal competition to recruit employees increase.

From finance to healthcare, companies across a range of industries across Australia have pledged to try a shorter workweek from August as part of an initiative by non-profit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global.

Two years after transitioning to working from home, Australians have been working an estimated six extra hours a week, leading to burnout and exhaustion, according to a study by the Australia Institute’s Center for Future Work.

A range of organizations around the world participate in the 4 Day Week Global Organizations study, including 70 companies with more than 3,300 employees in the UK, 17 in Ireland and 38 in North America.

According to the organization, the study aims to increase productivity by 25 to 50 percent and fundamentally change the outdated mindset that working longer is better.

Research from 4 Day Week Global found that 75 percent of employees were happier and less stressed with a 4-day work week, while two-thirds of companies found it easier to attract and retain talent.

Meanwhile, new research has found that 38 per cent of nearly 4,000 employees across Australia are opting for an ‘all roles flex’ model for employees, allowing their employees to choose how, where and when they work – and more often focus on performance than time spent in the office.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s All Roles Flex research is among the priority actions that researchers in Australia and internationally say can drive progress towards gender equality.

Mary Wooldridge, director of WGEA, said employers need to look beyond working from home when considering workplace flexibility.

“Flexible work is an important engine for gender equality, but employers should be creative to allow their employees flexibility that suits their specific needs,” she said.

“Among the innovative measures we have seen employers include creating shifts specifically inside or outside of school hours and offering job-sharing or part-time work arrangements for managerial or executive positions.

“Such measures facilitate the equal participation of women and men in working life – be it in the office or at home.”

A third of Australian flex workers say they would quit their job immediately or look for a new one if they had to return to the office full-time.

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