Four-day workweek: The benefits and drawbacks for workers and employers

Shortening the workweek is expanding. Workers in Belgium are now entitled to a four-day workweek. And even one Upstate business says it’s part of the way they operate.
A trend to shorten the work week is now expanding across the globe. Workers in Belgium are now entitled to a four-day workweek
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 9:30 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A trend to shorten the work week is now expanding across the globe. Workers in Belgium are now entitled to a four-day workweek. And even one Upstate business says it’s part of the way they operate.

Brandon Hull is a small engine mechanic at Upstate Liquidator whose got upwards of 500 machines to test and ship out.

“To do my job you’ve got to pay attention to detail, be quick with your hands, and have good time management — all those go hand in hand,” Hull said. “There’s chainsaws, lawnmowers, weed eaters, pressure washers, leaf blowers, pretty much any outdoor power equipment.”

And the recent newlywed gladly does it fulltime on a four day a week schedule.

“Right when I started here, I actually kept my second job as a bartender so I could do that on the weekends,” he said.

And it’s this kind of flexibility that lured his wife Brittany to the same company.

“Saturday is my mental health day, Sunday is my church and family day, and Monday is for class and doctors’ appointments — and you can (also) go to banks,” she said.

Upstate Liquidator has three locations in the Carolinas with one in Greenville. Another site is soon to open in Columbia. And collectively a third of their employees are on a four-day workweek.

“The four-day workweek will definitely work if you surround yourself with the right people who are all passionate about the same cause,” said Kyle Cenderelli, Upstate Liquidator owner.

Cenderelli says three years ago they adopted the four-day workweek schedule to incentivize staff with flexibly and travel costs.

“Back and forth each day our collective travel time would be about two-and-a-half hours,” Brittany said.

“They don’t have to come here as often, so it saves them both time and money,” Cenderelli added.

A financial win for workers, but Cenderelli says the four-day option also increased productivity and retention.

“The four-day workweek allows them more time to focus throughout the day – more concentration to get things done and not have to chop it up through five days,” he said.

And it reduced utilities and overhead costs.

“We save approximately $2,000 to $3,000 a month,” Cenderelli said.

And there’s data to support it. A trial by 4 Day Week Global found workers were more productive and doing a better job at work. Workers also had an “increased level of control over their schedules” and there were benefits to the environment.

“In Sweden, Denmark, (and) Norway where a four-day work week is common, the real saver is not having to spend money on fuel and gas to get back and forth to work and the extra two hours a day of travel time,” said Dr. Bernard Francis Pettingill, economist.

Dr. Pettingill also believes more companies will follow.

“And as a result, I’m going to make a prediction, I think health care costs are going to come down,” he said.

FOX Carolina wanted to know; how many companies are offering four-day workweek schedules here in the Upstate? There’s quite a few. So, who won’t a four-day workweek really work for? Economists and experts say it comes down to industry sector and workplace culture.

“Someone whose being paid by the hour and incentivized to work 40-plus hours because of overtime,” said Dr. Pettingill. “It’s easier for them to get paid (and) be incentivized by the clock rather than incentivized by their output, effectiveness and efficiency.”

Experts say a four-day workweek may not be ideal for workers driven by overtime, and data suggests industries less likely to make the switch to a four-day workweek include retail, construction and education.

“Keep in mind, they can’t work from home. They can’t do construction from home or retail from their home,” Dr. Pettingill said. “They are already blocked from that methodology and that way of being incentivized from their productivity measures.”

It’s the same story for store workers for Upstate Liquidator.

“It’s just a little harder for the retail section given different days of sale volume dictating how many people we’ll have at a store working that day,” Cenderelli said.

Proof there’s no one way to run a successful business.

“I can get everything done and then I have a three-day weekend, so it’s almost like half of my week is dedicated to work and half of my week is dedicated to myself,” Brittany said.

Interested in a four-day workweek? Upstate Liquidator is seeking supply workers and a truck driver for its Zirconia location. There’s also traditional positions available at the Asheville site and soon to open Columbia store. To learn more visit, here: https://www.upstateliquidator.com/