Work-life balance

Firms wary of four-day week despite rising demand

Office, flexible working
Workers are demanding more flexible office hours

Professional workers are more enthusiastic about a shorter working week than employers who remain largely unprepared for a change to the five-day routine.

More than half (53%) of professional workers in Scotland would be tempted to move to a firm offering a four-day week and a third (32%) believe it will be commonplace within two to five years.

However, only 2% of employers in Scotland have introduced a shorter week and two-thirds (63%) say such plans are not even being considered.

The findings are likely to prompt further reviews by employers as they seek ways to meet staff demands on work-life balance.

The latest Quarterly Insights Survey by recruitment firm Hays Scotland found that employees are seeking a shorter working week, while employers are balancing the impact on productivity with a need to offer more benefits to attract top talent.

The main reason cited by both employers and employees in Scotland for adopting a four-day working week was to benefit mental health and wellbeing (64% and 67%, respectively). ‘Organisational productivity’ was cited by 12% of employees as a benefit, with employers putting ‘attracting talent’ (13%) as being beneficial.

The research showed that 38% of employers in Scotland believe that a four-day working week will never become a reality, with 23% saying they would never consider it due to the nature of their organisation.

Sixty companies across Britain have signed up for a six-month trial of a four-day working week starting in June.

Director of Hays Scotland, Keith Mason, said: “We’re certainly seeing companies getting more creative in what they can offer prospective staff when trying to recruit in a competitive market.

“But before taking the leap into a four-day week, it’s vital that employers are certain that it’s a sustainable model for maintaining productivity in the longer term.

“In the meantime, they need to be sure to get the basics right such as offering competitive salaries, along with flexible and hybrid working.

“We know there are a few companies in Scotland offering a four-day week, and whilst this might be seen as an attractive offering, there are many other ways for companies to stand out from the crowd.

“Actions such as having a strong purpose and offering staff the opportunity to take volunteer days is attractive, as is introducing wellbeing days.

“However, all of these additional aspects only work and will only be attractive if employers get the basics right first.”

Events firm offers cash and holiday incentives

A conference and events business is offering a holiday package worth £2,000 plus a further £1,000 in cash bonuses, in a bid to lure chefs and hospitality staff.

Surgeons Quarter in Edinburgh, the commercial arm of the Royal College of Surgeons, is launching the incentives as part of its ‘Work Hard Play Hard’ recruitment campaign.

Scott Mitchell, managing director of Surgeons Quarter, said: “Like the majority of other hospitality firms, we faced the challenge of a skills shortage after the setbacks of the pandemic and Brexit. It is so exciting, now that we are back up and thriving, to be able to provide our recruits with this fantastic and rare opportunity.”

At the beginning of the year, Surgeons Quarter set a target of increasing staff numbers by 70% and has since seen its payroll top 150 people as demand for in-person meetings and events at its venues pass pre-Covid levels. 

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