What Will a Four-Day Workweek Mean for PTO?

By Rob Whalen - Mar 7, 2023 3:23:57 PM - 5 MINS READ

Over the last year, many companies worldwide have participated in four-day workweek trials to test the impact on employee productivity. Several companies participating in the trials found success, resulting in increased productivity and reduced stress. Some of these companies have even made a four-day workweek permanent. But as employees get an extra day off each week, how will this impact how they take PTO and their company’s PTO policy?

The Rise of the Four-day Workweek

Four-day workweeks have gained momentum as a response to pandemic burnout, spurring the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” movements as employees try to grasp their mental health and work-life balance better. Companies are seeking new and better work methods to help their employees combat stress and burnout, such as hybrid or remote work, ROWE, and flexible hours. Employers are also looking at new ways to retain and recruit employees, especially Gen Zers, prioritizing mental health and well-being over anything else. A four-day workweek fits the bill. 

A common misconception is that a four-day workweek is cramming 40 hours worth of work in four days. That’s not the case; a four-day workweek reduces the workweek to 32 hours. According to the findings of the trials, they have several benefits: combatting burnout, boosting employee morale and satisfaction, improving loyalty, and more. Additionally, companies found that they significantly improved their productivity, revenue, and employee well-being.

Employees who work at companies with four-day workweeks are left with an extra day off during the week, essentially giving them a three-day weekend every weekend. Because we’re so used to a five-day workweek, we look at a four-day workweek as having an extra day off. It’s unfamiliar but welcomed territory.  

The Changing Face of PTO

Since employees get an extra day off each week in a four-day workweek model, what does this mean for PTO? First, the rise in off days will either result in more unused PTO or employers reevaluating their PTO policies.

Even More PTO Will Go Unused 

Using PTO is already an issue for American workers. The average employee has 9.5 days of unused PTO, which costs companies billions of dollars annually. And for employees who have a four-day workweek, they likely won’t be encouraged to take even more time off. In their eyes, they’re already getting a three-day weekend to take that weekend trip they otherwise would have had to ask for time off. If employees aren’t using their time off now with a four-day workweek, there’s no chance they’ll use all of it with a shorter week. 

Employers Will Reevaluate PTO Policies 

Companies might view a four-day workweek as “paid time off” and change their PTO policies. These could take several forms; companies could swing in one direction and adopt an unlimited PTO policy, or they could swing in the other direction and significantly reduce their PTO policy. It will ultimately come down to how the company views its employees’ well-being and the benefits they have to support that. 

Unlock the Value of PTO With Flexible Benefits

If your company implemented a four-day workweek and you’re not using all of your PTO, why not convert it into something useful? Flexible benefits help employees unlock the total value of their unused PTO and direct the value of that PTO into other causes that benefit them. Flexible benefits allow employees to leverage their unused PTO and turn it into 401(k) contributions, student loan repayments, charitable contributions, and more. It’s completely customizable, so your employees can use their unused PTO however they want. 

Don’t let your unused PTO go to waste. Instead, learn more about how PTO Exchange can help employees unlock the full value of their PTO.

Rob Whalen

Rob is co-founder and CEO of PTO Exchange.

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