KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Could your workweek be getting a little bit shorter? One business expert with the University of Tennessee thinks it might be a good idea.
An associate professor of management at UT’s Haslam College of Business started by explaining the five-day workweek comes from Henry Ford and the manufacturing industry more than 100 years ago. Timothy Munyon said it then spilled into office life; however, he said it’s obvious times have changed.
“The history of work, if you look at how we’ve structured work really over the last 120-plus years, it’s an artifact of some realities that were relevant in history but maybe not relevant today,” said Munyon. “When you look at the nature of the way that we actually do work it’s not always the best way for employees.”
That’s why Munyon said he’s passionate about improving the work-life balance for Americans across the nation. It’s also why he feels it may be wise for employers to consider changes like a four-day workweek, saying it can improve productivity, reduce burnout and increase respite.
“It’s about sustainability, actually helping people be well at work and thrive while also helping manage for the long run,” he said.
Munyon also adds this has become vital over the last couple of years as the world dealt with political unrest, the pandemic, and financial insecurity.
“One thing that employers can do is kind of build in a little bit more rest for their employees to recharge, it’s not business as normal,” he began. “If you look at things like base rates of things like burnout and depression in the population, we see spikes, and often they are non-work-related spikes, but employers can help employees better manage those stressors by giving them flexibility and a little more latitude at work.”
Munyon also said there must be a shift in the way employers think soon if they hope to slow down what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” Throughout the pandemic, Munyon said more Americans than ever reevaluated what mattered to them, forcing some of them out of the workforce altogether.
“Especially amidst the Great Resignation where employees have a lot of latitude, they can pick and choose where they want to go, employers who recognize those needs, those values are going to put themselves in a better position to retain top talent,” Munyon said.
He said if employers can make a shift to offer some flexibility at work, it could keep younger talent around and the baby boomers in check a little longer.
“If we can be flexible and we can offer arrangements that aren’t kind of this traditional route workweek, it actually encourages them to stay plugged in too,” he said. “We retain their talent, their skills, their relationships, their knowledge, all those things that we need and we can actually help our employees a lot just by being a little more flexible.”
While he knows the four-day workweek may not work for every field or industry, it can work for many. Munyon said he feels the same amount of work can get done in four days as opposed to five, while keeping the same pay, adding the three days off would allow people to recharge their bodies and minds.