6 Tips for Adopting a Four-Day Workweek

 6 Tips for Adopting a Four-Day Workweek
Rimini Street has experimented with a four-day workweek since the summer of 2022.

Employee Well-being

Rimini Street, a global software and engineering services provider, shares how it tested and expanded a pilot program to its 2,000 global employees.

Despite improved workplace experiences at the typical U.S. workplace, most companies have yet to crack the code on employee well-being.

Great Place To Work® surveyed more than 4,400 U.S. employees in a market study in July of 2023. While experiences of fair pay and healthy work-life balance improved from data collected in 2021, employees’ mental health hasn’t budged.

In 2023, 55% of employees at the typical workplace said they had a psychologically and emotionally healthy work environment – a two-point increase from 53% in 2021.

That’s a stark contrast to the 63% of workers who reported a healthy work-life balance in 2023, a 13-point increase from 2021 where 55% percent of workers reported the same.

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After all the investments in mental well-being in the post-pandemic era, what can companies do to move the needle?

A new report from Gallup shows that the majority of employees believe a four-day workweek is the cure for burnout and mental fatigue in their workplace. Overall, 77% of employees surveyed indicated they were at least somewhat in favor of a four-day workweek, the highest overall rating for any of the well-being interventions Gallup included in its survey.

Rimini Street, a global software engineering services provider, is one of the companies that has experimented with a four-day workweek.

In the summer of 2022, as the world began to shape the “new normal,” the firm recognized the rising level of daily stresses employees faced and decided to take action, testing a three-month pilot in July, August, and September of 2022 where employees were encouraged to take one day a week as a “Fabulous Friday.” That pilot became a yearlong program in 2023 and has been renewed as a perk through 2024.

“We are guided by a ‘follow-the-sun model,’” says Janet Ravin, VP, global communications, culture, and experience.

“Our dedicated engineers and team members work around the globe, and with our industry-leading response time to resolve software critical issues for our thousands of clients, they take turns with their designated “Fabulous Friday” dates. In the organization, some people might have Marvelous Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, or Wonderful Wednesdays. The teams will work together to swap out those days that they need to make it into a flexible four-day work week.”

Being a global organization adds complexity to the four-day workweek program as the company takes care to follow local employment laws, and ensure staffing levels are keeping pace with their promise to customers to respond to priority tickets within 10 minutes of submission, around the clock, 365 days a year, with an average of less than 90 seconds actual response time.

“We navigate and balance many time zones, functions, and departments to make the program successful,” Ravin explains. “It’s really about having transparency and clear communication at the core. Everybody steps up and says, ‘Let’s make this work together.’”

For organizations considering a four-day workweek, Ravin shared these tips:

1. Ensure top executives actively lead.

The four-day workweek has been effective at Rimini Street because of strong endorsement from the C-suite, Ravin says.

“It really starts from the top,” she says. “In the program’s infancy, we've had executives and team leaders say, ‘Hey, maybe we should squeeze in this meeting on Friday’ — and the CEO jumps in and says, ‘No, we're going to respect everybody's Fabulous Fridays.’”

Without firm guidance from the leadership team, Ravin says it’s easy for a four-day workweek to unravel. “Leadership buy-in and the commitment to making it work can make or break the program,” she says. Even when a program is successful, leaders must continue to reinforce the values and behaviors that support the program.

“It's always under threat if people don't actively come together to make it successful,” Ravin says.

2. Tie operations changes to your culture and values.

Ravin recommends taking a close look at your company culture and how employees connect to one other before launching something as ambitious as a four-day workweek.

“Without a cohesive culture of collaboration and trust, this program falls apart very quickly,” she says. “You may be able to roll out the program with big promises that there will be no negative impact to the company performance or client experience, but making those promises come true require constant collaboration and recalibration.”

3. Don’t overpromise.

Notably, Rimini Street has continued to renew its four-day workweek policy on an annual basis, in contrast to the pronouncements of many firms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic embracing full-time remote work forever.

“We all watched the news of companies backpedaling, and how it impacted their culture and brand,” says Ravin. Instead, Rimini Street makes a conscious decision to renew the program and evaluate the success of the previous year. Questions the leadership team asks:

  • Did it produce the results that we want?
  • Did it impact anything negatively across the organization or to our clients?
  • Did it negatively impact any of our four C’s (company, clients, colleagues, and community)?
  • How does this impact our culture and employee satisfaction?

By reevaluating the program year-over-year, the team can keep a watchful eye on performance and measure how their investments are driving results for clients, internal teams and stakeholders.

4. Build listening loops.

Employee listening is always a crucial component of any new workforce program.

“Feedback loops serve multiple purposes,” Ravin says. First, they are touchpoints with employees, “letting them know that you care about their thoughts and their considerations.” Second, they serve as measurement tools for leaders to ensure the program is having the desired impact.

At Rimini Street, listening programs include the CEO holding skip-level meetings with employees to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

“He was doing some skip-level meetings and learned that in one of the work groups, the four-day workweek was a bit of a challenge because of the volume of time-sensitive work expected for completion each quarter,” says Ravin.

In response, the CEO revisited resources and roles for the team to ensure everyone can take their break, while still delivering for clients.

5. Consider the impact on other benefits.

A four-day workweek might impact benefits such as your PTO policy, Ravin says. “Now that you have all this extra time off, how does that affect the accrual of PTO?”

To avoid unintended consequences, she recommends working closely with your total rewards function to identify what programs might need to be adjusted, and how to communicate changes.

6. Connect to business performance.

For the four-day workweek to be successful, teams must be able to show how the investment in employees is benefiting the business. At Rimini Street, leaders see the four-day workweek as instrumental in driving a range of important outcomes, such as retention and recruitment.

“We always evaluate our attrition rate and industry benchmarks,” says Ravin. Leaders also use their Trust Index™ Survey to understand how employees are experiencing the program. “When we participate in surveys, the Fabulous Fridays always comes up,” Ravin says. And anecdotal evidence that the offering is boosting recruitment also surfaces when interviewing new hires.

“They say, ‘Oh, we saw that. We think that's so cool,’” says Ravin. “We know that the word is definitely spreading about it.”

Even better, the company connects the program to its overall business success.

When employees are taken care of, they deliver superior service to clients, Ravin says.

“Our latest earnings number says it all.”

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Ted Kitterman