One in three Aussies would leave their current job for a company that offered a four-day working week in search of a better work-life balance, new research has revealed.
Young Aussies, who are driving the quiet quitting trend, are particularly keen to reduce their time at work, with 40 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 years ready to move to a company that offered a four-day work week, compared to 26 per cent of those aged 45-64 years, found work consultancy firm Future X Collective.
While some Australian companies like Unilever, the multinational behind a catalogue of 400 products, including Dove soap, Magnum ice cream, and Lynx, are leading the movement for the four day work week, many are still reluctant despite record levels of burnout.
Unilever said this month it would trial the four-day work week in its Australian operations after it found success in its New Zealand firm with employees choosing which day or set of hours is most suitable for them to take off.
Co-founder of Future X Collective, Angela Ferguson, said many employees are feeling the onset of fatigue and burnout.
“While this year has opened a greater discussion than ever about flexible working, mental health and reduced hours, many Australians feel this is more talk than action,” she said.
“It is important to acknowledge that many Australian companies are not yet prepared to transition to a four-day working week, should that be an option. However, they could be having open discussions about the suitability of a four-day week with their board members and employees.
“In the meantime, employers must find a way to support employees who are feeling overworked in a way which is proactive rather reactive and put words into action.”
However, the research also found that 45 per cent of Australians believe that their job requires them to work more than four days a week, with 19 per cent reporting that their workplace would be too worried about the loss of productivity to make the shift.
“I’d worry that there will be pressure to keep working on the fifth day anyway,” said a 24-year-old communications officer from Sydney, who took part in the research.
“Unless everybody has the same day off, people will still bug you on your day off for so-called critical/urgent things.”
Yet, a worldwide trial has some Australian companies turning to a four day work week with no pay cut as burnout rises among staff, as well as the fallout from brutal competition to attract employees.
From finance to health, company’s from a range of industries across Australia signed up to trial a shorter work week from August as part of an initiative from not-for-profit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global.
Two years on from the shift to working from home, Australians are estimated to have worked an additional six hours per week, according to research from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, leading to burnout and exhaustion.
Around the world, there are a number of organisations participating in the 4 Day Week Global organisations trial, including 70 firms with more than 3300 workers in the UK, 17 in Ireland and 38 in North America.
The trial is expected to improve productivity by between 25 to 50 per cent, according to the organisation, and would be a gamechanger for the outdated mindset that working longer is better.
Research from 4 Day Week Global found 75 per cent of employees doing a four-day work week were happier and less stressed, while two-thirds of companies found it easier to attract and retain talent.
Meanwhile, new research has revealed that 38 per cent of almost 4000 employees across Australia, are choosing to move to an ‘all roles flex’ model for employees, allowing their staff to determine how, where and when they work – focusing on output rather than time spent in the office.
The research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, with ‘all roles flex’ 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 thinking about flexibility in the workplace.
“Flexible work is a key driver for gender equality, but employers should be creative to enable their employees to have flexibility that meets their specific needs,” she said.
“Innovative actions we’ve seen from employers include creating shifts specifically within or outside of school hours and offering job sharing or part-time work arrangements for managerial or executive roles.
“These types of measures make it easier for men and women to equally participate in the workforce – whether that’s from the office or home.”
A third of Australian employees who are working flexibly report they would immediately quit their job or start looking for a new one if they were required to return to the office full time.