Back To Career News

4 Reasons the 4-Day Work Week Could Be a Disaster

Like many other American workers, you may be intrigued with the idea of working fewer hours, having more family time, enjoying more relaxation, and pursuing professional enrichment. A four-day work week sounds like the perfect solution, right? The reality of changing up the work week is that it could be very different.

Like many other American workers, you may be intrigued with the idea of working fewer hours, having more family time, enjoying more relaxation, and pursuing professional enrichment. A four-day work week sounds like the perfect solution, right? The reality of changing up the work week is that it could be very different.

working late 

(Photo Credit: BLW Photography/Flickr)

Here are just four reasons the four-day work week could be disastrous — in both personal and professional realms.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

  • 1. Overwork: While it’s nice to think that employees can easily cram the work from five days into a four-day work week, the reality is that many Americans are already overworked, contributing to “road rage, workplace shootings, the rising number of children in day care and increasing demands for after-school activities,” according to Dean Schabner at ABC News. One infographic on Visual.ly also depicts the true scope of the problem (with one-third of Americans saying that they already feel chronically overworked).
  • 2. Underemployment: It’s really a game of “what if”? When employees work fewer hours, that could mean they’d also brings home less money. Of course, the employers could increase salaries and per-hour pay (or offer other compensatory incentives for higher levels of productivity), but there’s no guarantee. So, while the employer is likely to find ways to cover the workload (and/or inspire greater productivity), employees would be faced with the brutal reality of underemployment. 
  • 3. Multiple jobs: The most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 4.9 percent of US employees already have multiple jobs. That four-day work week (and the associated implications for lower overall take-home pay) could mean a significant increase in that rate. Instead of reducing stress and giving employees more time off to enjoy life, employees would then need to find additional work to compensate for the short-fall in lost income.
  • 4. Dystopian reality: Whenever you hear or read news that sounds too good to be true, there’s often a catch (or more than one). With the economic downturn, you’ve probably read news stories about layoffs, restructurings, and cut-backs. That fabulous-sounding, four-day work week is one of the strategies companies use to improve the bottom line. It may sound great. It can be of significant benefit to the employer, and it can even be of benefit to the worker — if he or she needs to work fewer hours or requires a lighter workload. But fewer hours often means just what it sounds like: lower pay, and more scrambling to make ends meet. 

For good or bad, any employer has the option of implementing a four-day work week. Before you jump in, look (and ask questions) before you leap. If you examine all the implications, you could see that the four-day work week would be disastrous for you.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your thoughts on the four-day work week: love it or hate it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Esther Lombardi
Read more from Esther

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.