The 4-day week in the crosshairs of French workers?

The health crisis continues to have a major impact on the way of life and work of French workers. Teleworking has proven to be beneficial to the advent of the 4-day workweek in the workplace, as evidenced by the “People at Work 2022: the Workforce View study” survey data from ADP, the pioneer and global leader in Human Resources solutions. This survey was conducted among more than 32,924 working people in 17 countries, including nearly 2,000 in France.

Returning to the office has sometimes been synonymous with returning to old ways of working: end of telecommuting, greater management control over teams at companies struggling to implement sustainable flexible work policies. However, for employees, presenteeism is now an outdated concept and many of them want to be free to manage their time and workload, even going so far as to adopt the 4-day week. Indeed, 64% of French workers would like to benefit from more flexibility in the organization of their working hours, with the option of reducing them to a 4-day working week. This is 4 points more than in 2019 (60%).

This desire to take over the 4-day week is especially present among the parents (69%), among the women (66%) and among the 25-44 year-olds (67%). Employees in the hotel and tourism sector (76%), industry (69%) and media and information (69%) are also in favor of it. Although the 4-day workweek is becoming increasingly popular with employees, only 5% of French companies have implemented it so far and only 19% have implemented flexible work policies. When setting up such an organization, 76% of employees benefit from this flexibility and only 7% feel guilty about using this advantage.

Rethink organizations

While the French say the most important factor for a job is salary (67%), more than half (57%) would accept it being cut in exchange for a better work-life balance. This is especially the case among those aged 18-24 (65%), as well as those who work in the media and information (69%), leisure and hospitality (67%) and finance (64%). On the other hand, unlike workers worldwide (50%), only 27% in France would allow a cut in their wages in exchange for the flexibility of their working hours. A finding that is more visible among men (32%), 18-34 year olds (32%), and among those working in finance (38%), media and information (38%), as well as in real estate ( 36%).

Employers who have the opportunity to execute contracts with greater flexibility could benefit from this in terms of hiring and retention, especially as 57% of French workers, including 72% of 18-34 year olds, have considered hiring a major career switch in the past year, be it a transition to another industry, a sabbatical or starting a business. † Since the pandemic, the list of employee expectations regarding their work environment has been evolving: we knew that salary and job security were key motivators, now accompanied by flexibility says Carlos Fontelas De Carvalho, president of ADP in France and Switzerland. † French workers are essentially satisfied with their current job, but the fact that a majority have considered a radical career change should challenge us and encourage employers to think about the best models for their organization.

Hybrid working as a solution?

The 4-day workweek is often mentioned as we must remain vigilant about the risk of exhaustion of employees who would have to do more work in less time and be aware that this type of model is not suitable for all companies. In fact, it is the whole question of organization and working time locally or remotely that needs to be studied in order to meet the expectations of employees in terms of work-life balance meaning at work and social bonding. Hybrid work, if possible, can partially meet these expectations, as can flexible working hours or adjusted hours, provided the company is equipped with the right tools to measure activity. † More generally, we see a very strong demand from employees for management models based on trust, autonomy and responsibility, which undeniably make it possible to attract and, above all, retain the best talent. This is a major challenge for companies in the current context† concludes Carlos Fontelas De Carvalho.

†< Lees ook: Telewerken en loskoppelen: 3 manieren om grenzen te stellen en uw gezond verstand te behouden >†

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