A 4-day workweek – Inside Finance (2024)

D’Youville College shifts to a four-day, 32-hour workweek for staff and administrators—with no reduction in pay or benefits.

The four-day workweek has come to an American college.

D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y., turned heads last week when it announced that staff and administrators would shift to a four-day, 32-hour workweek—down from the five-day, 37.5-hour week they previously worked—without any reduction to their pay or benefits. The private college is launching the four-day workweek on a trial basis, with plans to assess how it’s working, and whether there have been any changes in student satisfaction, after six months.

The change comes in the context of a tight labor market. Many institutions are struggling with staff and faculty burnout, and many employees who became accustomed to working remotely during the pandemic areseeking more flexibility in their work schedules.

“We absolutely feel it’s going to help us with talent acquisition. We feel very strongly it will also help us with employee attrition,” said Lorrie Clemo, president of D’Youville.

“Our staff and administrators are very much knowledge workers, and they have for many years seen the faculty having flexibility in their schedules,” she said. “I think this will really help in terms of a more consistent approach to how we work with both faculty and staff by giving our staff and administrators the sort of flexibility that faculty have enjoyed for years in terms of how they manage their workloads.”

Clemo said the idea grew out of the college’s experience with the pandemic and participation in a New York State shared work program through which the college temporarily reduced employee hours to 32 hours a week for the summer of 2020 and employees were eligible for unemployment benefits for the missing hours.

“The program in New York State gave us the opportunity to almost trial a reduced workweek, and I felt during that time period that we had more innovative programming coming forward, greater dedication of our employees and much more collaboration,” she said. “It really got me thinking about whether or not we could do this on a longer-term basis.”

The college has identified multiple goals for the reduced workweek: improving employee well-being is one goal, but other goals include achieving greater efficiencies through the use of technology and incentivizing professional development. To be eligible to participate, employees will have to enroll in professional development courses with initial offerings including project management, information support, user experience design and data analytics.

“What we want to do is use this almost as a carrot to get them to get more technology training in Office 365, more training in higher-level supervisory project management, and of course we want everybody to get more training in terms of data analytics,” Clemo said. “We believe this is really going to allow us to continue at that 32-hour workweek if we incorporate those skills into our workforce.”

The college is also putting an emphasis on cross-training employees across units. Clemo said the college is actually extending the hours offices are open, from 8 to 4:30 to 8 to 5—a function of employees working eight-hour days rather than 7.5.

“We are in the process of partnering offices with other offices so we have cross-training that’s going to take place,” she said. “We don’t expect that any offices will be closed at all. This will actually be an improvement over what we had in the past, when someone took a vacation day or sick day and the office would have to close. We’re going to make sure everyone is partnered up with another office so offices will remain open.”

The change to the workweek went into effect for D’Youville staff and administrators last week.

“I think it definitely boosts morale,” said Ryan Miller, director of student persistence at D’Youville and leader of an advisory group of administrators. “It gives our staff a more true work-life balance. They can work on hobbies, they can do research, they can spend more time with their families. I think it’s really going to energize the staff and allow them to be more creative, allow them to be more productive and really look for efficiencies and other ways to increase student satisfaction.”

“There’s that old saying, ‘happy employees are happy customers,’” Miller said. “I think you can probably say the same thing: if you have a happy staff, the students are going to see that and they’re going to gravitate toward that.”

John Rizk, president of D’Youville’s student government association, applauded the change.

“The Student Government Association is happy to hear about the shift to a 32-hour workweek and I hope that our future employers adopt the same forward thinking approach to our work/life balance,” Rizk said in a written statement. “I’m sure that the evaluation of this change is going to show incredible results and that D’Youville is paving the way for other universities in the future.”

Kevin McClure, an associate professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington who writes about faculty and staff burnout, said he was happy to see an institution “experimenting with an idea that research shows has had some success, at least in the private sector, success in terms of improving employee morale, while at the same time in some cases improving productivity or profitability.”

McClure said he had questions about how the reduced workweek will be implemented at D’Youville.

“One of them is whether or not there is enough effort being put in to ensure that this doesn’t just force individuals to try to squeeze more into the days that they are working in order to get everything done,” he said. “In other words, it makes me wonder if there will be ways in which they’ll be allowing individuals to really concentrate on the core aspects of their work.”

Laura Hechtel, the interim president and chief negotiator of D’Youville’s faculty union, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, said professors are supportive of the change for staff and administrators but feel they are being left out. The union is currently in negotiations with the university for a new faculty contract.

“We are in favor of the 32-hour workweek policy as a means of increasing retention, improving working conditions, and increasing employee health and wellness. The administrative staff and librarians at D’Youville are some of the hardest working and dedicated people on campus and deserve an improvement in work/life balance,” Hechtel said in a statement. “However, the college has done nothing similar to the 32-hour workweek for the faculty of the college. If anything, the faculty are assuming additional responsibilities that have been thrust upon them due to the actions of the administration.”

Hechtel said faculty have taken on additional administrative tasks after some academic support staff members were furloughed and subsequently terminated following the start of the pandemic in 2020 (Clemo said eight academic support positions were eliminated). And she noted that during contract negotiations in December, the college proposed increasing the teaching load for a small subset of professors in the chiropractic and pharmacy programs who are on 12-month contracts from 24 credit hours per year to 36, reasoning this would bring them more in line with faculty on nine-month contracts, who teach a 24-credit-hour load per year.

“Faculty at D’Youville are overworked, overstressed and feeling that they are not being heard by the administration,” said Hechtel, a professor of biology.

Clemo said the college is interested in ways to reduce faculty teaching loads to allow for more research and scholarship. She said the vice president for academic affairs is working with the Faculty Senate, outside the collective bargaining process, on a proposal to this effect.

“I absolutely recognize we’re seeing the same level of stress, tiredness and fatigue on our faculty that we’ve seen on our staff and administrators,” Clemo said. “The difference is with our faculty we are in a collective bargaining agreement, so any changes to the schedule, changes to their workload, have to go through that process. We are still in active negotiations, which will likely be going on for several months.”

A 4-day workweek – Inside Finance (2024)


What are the financial benefits of a 4-day work week? ›

Revenue and Reduced Costs

For example, Microsoft Japan reported a 23% decrease in electricity costs during their 4-day work week trial. Companies might also see a reduction in the number of sick days taken by employees, leading to increased productivity and lower costs associated with employee absence.

How feasible is a 4-day work week? ›

Unfortunately, a four-day week model doesn't suit every business. It's an option that is only viable for companies that can re-adapt their whole business to a new way of working. Adopting a different way of working is a big step, so you'll need to consider whether or not a four-day week is right for your company.

What were the results of the 4-day work week trial? ›

Almost all (96%) of staff said their personal life had benefited, and 86% felt they performed better at work, while 38% felt their organisation had become more efficient, and 24% said it had helped with caring responsibilities. Organisations reduced working hours by an average of 6.6 hours to reach a 31.6-hour week.

How to negotiate working 4 days a week? ›

Employees should be well-prepared for such a conversation and consider the following factors.
  1. Know your value to the company. ...
  2. Research the market. ...
  3. Make sure a 4-day work week is suitable for your company. ...
  4. Determine how it will affect your salary. ...
  5. Prepare your offer. ...
  6. Choose the right time. ...
  7. Explain the reasons for the request.
Apr 17, 2024

What is the advantage and disadvantage of working 4 days a week? ›

Pros of a 4-day work week can include cost savings, increased productivity, and employee retention. Some disadvantages, however, can include scheduling challenges, reduced productivity, and added stress.

Does a 4-day work week mean less pay? ›

You're getting the same salary for less work and more personal time, so there's no reason why a 4-day work week wouldn't be worth it (unless you have to do longer days). Here are the main reasons why a 4-day week is worth it: You get the same pay for doing less work in most cases.

Why we shouldn't have a 4-day work week? ›

First, especially if employers are dictating the terms, four-day weeks could simply come to mean cramming the same amount of work time into fewer calendar days, like working four 10-hour days. That might suit some people's preferences. But for others, it's a road to more burnout, not less.

Is a 4-day work week still 40 hours? ›

In a four-day workweek, workers log 32 hours per week rather than 40 hours per week. Benefits and pay, however, remain the same. The four-day workweek certainly existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic increased conversations around and adoption of the alternative schedule.

Does a four day work week reduce stress? ›

Employees who shift to a four-day workweek may experience less burnout, stress, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems, new research shows.

What is the biggest 4 day work week trial? ›

The majority of companies in the United Kingdom that took part in the world's largest study trialling a four-day workweek have made the policy permanent, with 100 per cent of managers and CEOs saying it had a “positive” impact on the organisation. Some 61 organisations took part in the six-month pilot in 2022.

How do you pass a trial day? ›

Top tips for a great trial shift
  1. Do some company research. Before starting your work trial, do some research into the company and the type of qualities you should bring to the trial shift. ...
  2. Eat breakfast. ...
  3. Dress to impress. ...
  4. Arrive early. ...
  5. Get friendly with the team. ...
  6. Smile! ...
  7. Don't be idle. ...
  8. Be confident!

What is the 4 day workweek experiment? ›

Companies that have tried it are reporting happier workers, lower turnover and greater efficiency. Now, there's evidence that those effects are long lasting. The latest data come from a trial in the U.K. In 2022, 61 companies moved their employees to a four-day workweek with no reduction in pay.

Why is a 4-day work week better than 5? ›

Results showed people in the programme had higher self-perceived health status, reduced levels of stress, were less tired and felt happier and more personally satisfied. The drop in commuting also led to a reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions and improved air quality.

How do you justify a 4 day week? ›

Increased productivity: Surprisingly, a shorter workweek can lead to increased productivity. With fewer days in the office, employees are often more focused and motivated to complete their tasks efficiently, reducing procrastination and time wasted during the workday.

How to actually execute a 4-day workweek? ›

How To Implement A Four-Day Workweek
  1. Step 1: Ensure You Have A High-Flexibility, High-Responsibility Culture. ...
  2. Step 2: Implement 'Flex Fridays' First. ...
  3. Step 3: Establish 'No Meetings Wednesdays' For Deep Work. ...
  4. Step 4: Tee Up A Generous Timeline. ...
  5. Step 5: Up Your Internal And External Communication.
Jul 28, 2023

How does a 4-day work week work for salaried employees? ›

What Is a Typical 4-Day Work Week Schedule? Most employers follow the 100-80-100 model when first implementing a 4-day work week: Employees are paid 100 percent of their salary. Employees work 80 percent of the traditional 40-hour workweek (32 hours).

What are the studies on the benefits of a four-day work week? ›

When researchers asked what the four-day structure had changed, 82% of surveyed companies reported positive impacts on staff well-being. 50% saw positive effects on reducing staff turnover and 32% said the policy had noticeably improved their recruitment, the study reports.

What is the trend of 4-day work week? ›

In almost every study, American workers advocate for a four-day workweek. A study by Eagle Hill Consulting found that 83% of respondents say a four-day workweek improves health and mitigates burnout. A Joblist survey, reports that a four-day workweek is what 94% of job seekers are looking for in a job.


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