How many Australian employers would offer a compressed work week?

Survey shows support is rising but 'it's not always a practical option,' says expert

How many Australian employers would offer a compressed work week?

Although 88% of Australian employers support a compressed work week, only 49% would offer it, according to a recent survey.

However, the level of support is up from 71% last November, finds research by Robert Half.

“Supporting a shortened work week is a noble option for employee well-being, but the feasibility of this endeavour doesn’t always fit the agenda of a business,” says Nicole Gorton, Director at Robert Half.

The online survey represents responses by 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs from companies across Australia.

What’s behind support for shortened work week?

The rise in support for the idea of a shortened work week – either a four-day week or nine-day fortnight - is attributed mostly to employee feedback (45%) and being aware of positive results experienced by other companies already having implemented a four-day work week (41%).

“There are many reasons why employers support a compressed work week but are unable to implement them, spanning from prioritisation issues, headcount restraints, industry type and the lack of face-to-face time with customer and clients,” says Gorton. “So while the notion of a four-day work week or nine-day fortnight is favourable for the employee experience, it is not always a practical option.”

The study reports that SME employers are more likely to face feasibility constraints, despite being more supportive of the shortened work week, than those in large organisations. Ninety-two per cent of SME employers are supportive of the shortened work week compared to 81% of large employers. However, 47% of SMEs would consider offering it while the number for large employers is 55%.

“Employers’ sentiments on compressed work weeks are evolving as companies consider how it can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool in a skills-short market,” Gorton says. “Prioritising employee wellbeing and work-life harmony has gained greater significance in companies of all sizes, and compressed work weeks are one way to simultaneously support both.”

Alternatives to shortened work weeks

For organisations finding it challenging to consider shortened work weeks, some alternatives include offering:

  • flexible schedules
  • remote and hybrid working options
  • compressed work weeks with compressed pay
  • temporary shortened weeks for employees in different life stages such as new parents or retirees re-entering the workforce
  • extra paid time off

Giving staff greater flexibility and autonomy could result in higher engagement, productivity and retention, says Gorton.

“A four-day work week won't work for every organisation — each situation is unique and requires careful consideration and planning to set staff up for success.”

Recent articles & video

2 in 3 Australians OK with date change for Australia Day

Former security services firm fined for failing to act on Compliance Notice

Independent contractor or not: Worker asserts oral contract

Worker hired through labour hire company challenges employment status

Most Read Articles

1 in 8 new hires leaving during probation: report

FWC finds early notice of end to fixed-term contract amounts to dismissal

Spotless entities plead guilty to long service leave underpayments