It’s official: a four-day working week offers “extensive benefits“ for the wellbeing of employees, and participating companies can experience a rise in revenues of up to 35% on the same period the previous year.
So I wondered: what if we applied the same to a retirement – only in reverse? What if we took an approach that for four days a week, we’d “do” retirement. Then for one day a week, we’d work to keep our brains active, be social, and earn a little extra money for the utility bills.
What the 4 day working week trial involved
The world’s largest four-day working week trial involved over 60 UK companies and just under 3000 employees. The companies involved could choose the nature of the four-day working week:
“Each company designed a policy tailored to its particular industry, organisational challenges, departmental structures and work culture. A range of four-day weeks were therefore developed, from classic ‘Friday off’ models, to ‘staggered’, ‘decentralised’, ‘annualised’, and ‘conditional’ structures.”
The results were impressive:
- 39% of employees were less stressed
- 71% had reduced levels of burnout
- 54% found it was easier to balance work with household jobs
- 62% reported it easier to combine work with social life
- The number of staff leaving participating companies dropped by 57%
- Levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased
- Mental and physical health both improved
Perhaps most encouraging of all, 56 of the companies involved in the trial are continuing with the four-day week.
Why a four-day retirement?
For some, retirement isn’t the golden dream they had anticipated, not because they have too little money, but because they have too much time. Once that initially long DIY job list is done, and the novelty of being able to holiday at any time wears off, retirement can become about filling days, not fulfilling dreams.
If you’ve been in the business world all your working life, retirement’s lack of structure, challenge and social life may also hit hard. As I’ve explained so many times before, retirement needs a purpose to make it meaningful.
The best of both worlds
If retirement isn’t suiting you, you won’t want to leave work only to rush headlong back to it full-time because it seems the only solution. A four-day retirement allows you to plan what you do during the week, to build a structure knowing that there is one fixed certainty – work on Wednesday (or whenever).
Just as those in a four-day working week will be motivated to complete work tasks before their day off, so you might feel motivated to complete retirement tasks so you have a “clear run” at work. The weekly requirement to get up, get out and get to work may give impetus to doing the same for retirement activities. Equally it may help you appreciate more the deliciousness of a cooked breakfast in your dressing gown on a Thursday!
It’s certainly worth a try, and who knows, you may join the 15% of employees in the work trial that said:
“No amount of money would induce them to accept a five-day schedule over the four-day week to which they were now accustomed.”
Inspiration for those approaching retirement
I was much heartened to read how those approaching retirement also benefitted from a four-day week. I’ve often advocated would-be retirees to ease out of work gently rather than a ‘full stop” approach.
However, going part-time doesn’t suit everybody, and a four-day working week offers a different approach. As one CEO quoted in the report said:
“I don’t want to retire and go ‘what the hell do I do now?’… I need to start doing things now that are going to sustain me when I finish working.”
So, if you’re still working, why not approach your employers and ask their approach to a four-day working week? If you’re a business owner, why not try it yourself!
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Need a little help living your best retirement?
I offer 1 to 1 retirement coaching that helps you focus on eight key pillars of retirement – and finances are only one of them. I help you see the bigger picture, so you can plan your retirement with purpose, to suit you and your family.
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