Pros and Cons of a 4 Day Work Week for Your Insurance Company

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the traditional work environment and structure is being reimagined. The insurance industry, known for its robust yet sometimes conservative approach to business, spent the last three years adjusting to new employee expectations around remote and hybrid flexibility. While there were some concerns that needed to be addressed, hybrid work has largely resulted in increased productivity, employee satisfaction and even benefitted the recruiting process. But as companies adapt and become comfortable with this change in how they do business, a new shift in work conditions looms, poised to change how we interact with our jobs once again.

In February of 2023, long awaited data from the UK’s 4 day work week trial arrived with overwhelmingly positive results. The trial spanned many industries, with the 4 day work week being tested in manufacturing, banking, hospitality and more. And while it’s been around for a few years–CNN named it one the nine most important new ideas in business in 2022–the increase in 4 day work week statistics means it is coming into focus for 2024.

The idea of compressing the workweek might seem challenging at first, but smart business leaders of 2024 will explore the intricacies of this modern work model and consider how it could align with their organization, impact their customer base, and potentially be an asset in hiring new staff. To get you started, let’s discuss the pros and cons of a 4 day work week.

What is the 4 Day Work Week Model?

The answer depends on your business and how you choose to integrate this schedule with your unique company. 4 Day Week Global, an organization founded in 2019 to pilot 4 day work week trials across the globe, promotes a model where staff are expected to work a 4-day, 32-hour week and are compensated equally to their pay on a 5-day, 40-hour week schedule. Other businesses structure their 4 day work week with a full 40 hours, meaning staff are working 10 hour days.

Which days of the week you do business will also depend on your customer interactions and expectations. You may be able to choose the same four days for your entire staff or you may stagger schedules to have some employees available during each of the five traditional business days.

Benefits of a 4 Day Work Week

As daunting as it may sound, 92% of employers from the UK trial said they would continue the 4 day work week model after the conclusion of their trial–so there are clearly some major benefits.

1. Improved Employee Well Being and Work-Life Balance

At the heart of the 4-day work week is the promise of an improved work-life balance. This model allows employees to have an extra day for personal commitments, relaxation, or hobbies, which can significantly reduce work-related stress and burnout. For insurance companies, this could translate into happier and more satisfied employees, who are likely to exhibit higher levels of engagement and loyalty to their employer.

Of the nearly 3,000 employees who participated in the UK’s 4 day work week trial, 39% reported being less stressed and 71% had reduced levels of burnout. Staff experienced fewer sleep issues and better mental and physical health at the conclusion of the trial. As we better understand the connection between company culture, employee engagement and candidate interest, organizations that foster the well being of their employees will quickly rise to the top. The 4 day work week may be another way in which companies can stand out and support their staff.

2. Increased Productivity

One of the biggest concerns about adopting a 4 day work week is that it would impact the company’s output. It’s no secret that time is one of the most essential ingredients to business success, so it would make sense that fewer working days and hours means less gets done…

These concerns only make the results of the 4 day work week trial even more compelling. Counterintuitive as it may seem, working fewer days can actually enhance productivity. With a condensed work week, employees tend to focus more and manage their time better, knowing they have a shorter window to complete their tasks. This heightened focus can lead to more efficient work processes and a decrease in idle time. On average, companies in the trial experienced a 1.4% increase in revenue between the start and end of the trial period and a 36% increase in revenue compared to the previous year. The insurance industry, with its emphasis on precision, stands to benefit greatly from such focused and efficient work patterns.

And the benefits of the 4 day work week on employee mental health and job satisfaction have ripple effects on their productivity too. Removing stressors and sleep issues means staff are more likely to be engaged and motivated by their work. 55% of employee participants reported an increase in their perception of their own work productivity.

3. Attracting and Retaining Talent

Just like remote or hybrid flexibility, potential candidates see the option for a 4 day work week as a major draw. During the 4 day work week trial, 63% of organizations found it easier to attract new talent. In today’s competitive insurance hiring market, offering this arrangement could help appeal to talented insurance professionals who are seeking a better balance between their personal and professional lives. Do some research on the benefits and schedules your competitors offer to better understand how a 4 day work week might also differentiate your organization from others.

In turn, adopting this work model can also increase retention of current staff. 42% of companies from the 4 day work week trial experienced a decrease and employee resignations. It’s no surprise that employees who suffer from less burnout and have a healthy work-life balance feel less motivated to seek other opportunities. If your insurance business is struggling with high turnover, you may need a stronger retention strategy–and company culture that resonates with your staff is vital to that.

4. Increased Gender Equality

How could a 4 day work week influence gender equality? As we already know, women shoulder a disproportionate amount of caregiving responsibilities, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Adopting a 32 hour week enables a better distribution of caring responsibilities between parents. It can also level the playing field by reducing barriers to women achieving senior positions at work and reducing childcare costs. From the UK trial, men were found to take on a greater share of housework and childcare and 21% of all employees report a reduction in childcare costs.

While this isn’t the sole solution to gender inequality in the workplace, it can help your company support and invest in their female staff.

5. Environmental and Cost Benefits

So we understand the benefits of a 4 day work week on the personnel side, but did you know that it can also improve your organization’s environmental impact? Yup, the average American produces 3.2 tonnes of carbon per year in their daily commute to and from work. Like remote work, reducing the number of days that employees are traveling to the office knocks an average of 30 minutes per week off each employee’s commute. It may not seem like much, but added together for all staff across the year, it can make a big impact in your carbon footprint. If corporate responsibility is part of your insurance organization’s mission and values, you can leverage this benefit of the 4 day work week to enhance your reputation as an environmentally conscious employer.

Depending on the 4 day work week model you choose, it can also mean reduced office-related expenses such as utilities and resources. One less day of turning on lights, charging devices and brewing coffee!

Potential Disadvantages of a 4 Day Work Week

It’s a good sign in favor of the 4 day work week that 92% of participating businesses are continuing with this model after the end of the trial, but for the 8% that chose not to continue, there are good reasons. 4 day work weeks may not be a good fit for every company and here are a few potential cons you should consider when deciding how to structure your staff schedules.

1. Challenges in Coordination and Customer Service:

Adopting a 4-day work week in the insurance industry, while beneficial in many respects, does not come without its challenges. One of the primary concerns is maintaining effective coordination and ensuring high-quality customer service.

  • Scheduling Complexities: With a compressed work week, scheduling meetings and coordinating with clients, who may be operating on a traditional 5-day schedule, becomes more complex. Insurance companies must be adept at managing these schedules to ensure that client needs are met promptly, and that there is no communication lag.
  • Client Interactions: In the insurance sector, where client trust and satisfaction are paramount, there’s a risk that reduced availability might lead to client frustration or perceived inaccessibility. Companies will need to find innovative ways to assure clients that their needs will be met efficiently, despite the shorter work week.
  • Maintaining Service Standards: Consistently delivering high-quality service is crucial in the insurance industry. A 4-day work week could potentially lead to gaps in service or delays in response time, especially during the transition period. Insurance firms must develop strategies to uphold their service standards, possibly through technological solutions or rotational work schedules.

2. Implementation Hurdles:

The transition to a 4-day work week in a traditionally structured industry like insurance presents several implementation challenges.

  • Cultural Shift: Implementing a 4-day work week requires a significant shift in company culture and mindset. Insurance companies, often rooted in conventional work models, may face resistance from management and employees accustomed to the standard 5-day work week.
  • Operational Overhaul: Moving to a shorter work week necessitates an overhaul of operational strategies. This includes redefining work processes, adjusting performance metrics, and potentially investing in technology or tools to support more efficient workflows.
  • Legal and Compliance Aspects: There are also legal and compliance considerations to account for. Insurance firms must ensure that the new work model aligns with labor laws, contractual obligations, and industry regulations.

To mitigate these challenges, companies might consider a 4 day work week trial program or a phased implementation approach, allowing them to test and refine the model before a full-scale rollout. Organization’s like 4 Day Week Global offer support and resources to businesses interested in making the switch.

While the transition to a 4 day work week in the insurance industry offers numerous advantages, it also comes with significant coordination, customer service, and implementation needs. Careful planning, open communication, and a willingness to adapt are essential for a successful transition to this new work model.

Are you considering a 4 day work week program and want to know how best to promote this to potential job candidates? Or do you need to brainstorm other ways to help your insurance company stand out in a fast and competitive hiring market? Talk to the experienced CPCs of Martin Grant about a hiring and retention strategy fit for you.

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