Article by Fabrício Oliveira, CEO of Vockan*
The adoption of the 4-day work week is a disruption for the corporate world. Our understanding of what work is, how we relate to it, productivity and mental health are some of the concepts that permeate this topic, which has generated so much curiosity and attention.
In my experience, issues that propose such innovation need the direct engagement of senior leadership to move forward. The company’s presidency, to be more objective, needs to be convinced so that there is, in fact, an increase in productivity.
That’s why it’s so important that whoever heads this change internally is able to equip these leaders with data. In this sense, the role of HR is fundamental.
I have participated in forums and discussions on the subject and have seen a growing interest from HR in the topic. This is great and excites me, because I truly believe that this model is an indelible part of the future of work due to its many benefits – as is the issue of hybrid work.
At the same time, it draws my attention to the challenge that these managers have in relation to their companies. How to convince senior leaders that the 4-day week is viable, that it is worth at least a test? After all, if I had resistance from my teams, let alone those who need to convince their peers or the top of the management pyramid.
4 steps to the 4-day week
It is not possible to talk about this type of change – with this magnitude and with this impact – without involving the department. Therefore, I have separated four steps that I think are central for HR managers who want to address the 4-day work week within their companies.
1. Perception of corporate culture of innovation – before thinking about a project, it is necessary to understand whether the company has space for this type of initiative. If there is no opening, it is necessary to present the topic in a very didactic and gradual way.
Taking the subject to management discussions as a trend, introducing the topic and opening space for people to express themselves on the issue. If, on the contrary, the company already has an innovation drive, it makes sense to think about the following steps.
2. Monitoring – start by getting to know your internal audience. How would an initiative of this type be received by people? Exercise active listening, explore with different departments how people see different work models, which would be ideal for them. In parallel, understand whether leaders are already relating to the topic or whether it is necessary to introduce it.
It is necessary to lay the groundwork and understand how didactic or not it is necessary to be. Understand who are the potential supporters of the project internally and how they believe the company would benefit. Identify the most resistant and think about what is important for them to have such an opinion.
3. Project development – facilitate understanding by leaders, design a project, propose a test. In other words, show simulations, schedules and step-by-step implementation for an experimental group. Project the gains and try to predict the negative points that managers may raise and have arguments and data to lead the discussion.
If you have data on talent retention and attraction, on employee happiness, satisfaction and mental health, bring it to the table. Prepare to continue with measurements that will support the development of the project and provide input for route corrections. Establishing good comparisons is one of the most effective ways of generating reliable analyses.
4. Patience – don’t be discouraged. Innovative projects are not unanimous. Convincing, redesigning, reevaluating and arguing are part of the process. See disagreements as an opportunity for growth, to polish the idea and to build an even more robust project.
After senior leadership accepts the project, it’s time to plan in detail and get down to business. At this stage, it is necessary to delve into the flows, design what the new flows will be like and dedicate a large part of the effort to consistent communication actions with employees, managers and also with the external public that may be impacted by internal changes.
The 4-day work week is here to stay. Each company needs to understand how it relates to the topic and, perhaps, the answer lies in listening to employees, understanding their realities, their interests and their desires. In this context, HR is a key player. It’s just not worth being apart from this discussion.
*Article originally published on RH Pra Você (Brazil).