Less than 2% of job ads offer four-day weeks

The lack of uptake shows hesitancy from employers, rather than a lack of interest from workers, said Jess Lancashire, CEO the research and training company From Another - ©Vadym/Adobe Stock

Just 1.61% of advertised jobs offer four-day working weeks in the UK, according to analysts at recruitment advisory firm StandoutCV. Is the four-day week overrated?

It’s a matter of perspective, suggested Charlie O'Brien, head of people for the HR software provider Breathe.

Speaking to HR magazine, O'Brien said: “If only 1.61% of roles advertised are providing a four-day working week, it’s a clear way to give your business a competitive advantage.

Read more: Four-day week continued by most trial participants

“Start measuring employee productivity on a five-day week and look at running a trial. The data will show you if it’s right for your business. But it takes preparation, data and building a culture of trust. A four-day working week is going to become the new normal for most businesses, so it's time to start preparing."

Jess Lancashire, CEO and founder of the research and training company From Another, told HR magazine: “The relatively low uptake suggests that there is still a lot more work to be done to make four-day week policies effective in practice. It also suggests hesitancy from employers, rather than a lack of interest from workers.

“Concerns around productivity, operational challenges, and uncertainty about restructuring workloads may hold organisations back.”

Analysts at StandoutCV also found that ‘HR assistant’ roles were the third most likely job title to be advertised as a four-day week role, suggesting that HR might be among the frontrunner professions for adopting four-day weeks.

Addressing this, Lancashire added: “The HR profession can play a pivotal role in facilitating the transition to more flexible workplaces. But to really make work brilliant and help people thrive, HR leaders must go beyond just implementing the policy.

“Ultimately, the success of four-day work weeks and other flexible work policies hinges on an organisation's ability to embed flexibility into its core values and empower its workforce to find the right balance between productivity and flexibility.”

Simon Ursell’s business, landscape planning consultancy Tyler Grange, was an early adopter of the four-day week. But he told HR magazine: “Focusing on a four-day week is not the point. Leaders need to be asking themselves why they are working the five-day, nine-to-five pattern.

“Working a four-day week is great for us here at Tyler Grange. However there are many ways to work. Are the alternatives being considered?”

On whether four-day weeks are the future, Ursell is on the fence. But he noted: “There are not many people going into London on a Friday morning. Maybe employees are implementing the four-day week by stealth. ”

Read more: Why the four-day week won't work

For HR leaders wanting to implement a four-day week, O'Brien advised sharp focus, and keeping a close eye on the trial data. “Focus on how, where and when you work,” he said, adding: “HR leaders need to add monetary costs to their data, as nothing speaks louder than a cost to the business.

“Look at your recruitment plans and dive into the data available on what talent wants. Think generationally too.

“Think flexibly; you don’t need everyone in a team on a four-day working week from Monday to Thursday – the days can be mixed. If your teams are dealing with customers, can AI be introduced so customers don’t feel any change in offering?”

Ursell offered three key pieces of advice for people leaders wanting to roll out a four-day week: “First, take your team with you. They will have the best ideas. Get them involved way before you start. Surprising your teams with a four-day week is a disaster.

“Second, remember that a four-day week is not the point; it's about being better. Tyler Grange is 30% more productive now that we work a four-day week.

“Last but not least, communication is key. Become amazing at comms, so that people who work on a Friday (clients, suppliers, etc) have everything they need.”

The StandoutCV team digitally analysed more than 45,000 LinkedIn job adverts between 8 February and 8 March 2024. The business' findings were published on Monday (29 April).