More and more companies in France are implementing the 4-day workweek. It’s not only the workers who benefit from it, but also the company.

“I’m convinced. It’s the future of labor,” says Laurent de la Clerche, founder of LDLC, a distributor of high-tech products, who has been experimenting with it for the past two years.

Three days off a week can be life-changing

“The first time I thought about a four-day week was in 2019. I heard that Microsoft in Japan had experimented with a four-day workweek and saw a 40% increase in productivity. I quickly tapped my calculator. It seemed risky to reduce the workday by one day and increase the number of hours per day. The only option was to reduce the workweek to 32 hours, which would require a 9% increase in the overall labor force.

Given the nature of the retailer’s work, the productivity gains would be small (maybe 5%). They would have to hire more people. We calculated that we would need €1 million (about $1.45 billion) in additional labor costs. That’s 10% of our annual revenue, but we thought it was worth a try.”

The math was completely off. In fact, the company’s turnover increased by 36% in two years, while the number of employees (1,000) and wages remained unchanged. The secret? “First, trust,” says the company president. “We let each department staff itself and hire as needed.” Another important factor was benefits. “Having three days off a week is life-changing. You can do all the things during the week that you normally put off because you don’t have time. You get to enjoy the weekend to the fullest.”

The workload naturally increased during the four days off. “But they don’t have to worry about kids’ doctor’s appointments or broken washing machines anymore. The real problem for today’s worker is stress and hyperconnectivity. You can’t do the math on the profit and loss of a four-day week. People are working more hours than ever before. They’re just working more comfortably.” This is evidenced by the halving of industrial accidents, sick leave, and absenteeism in two years. Turnover dropped from 11% in 2019 (low for a retailer) to 2% in 2022.

Nurses move a child patient in the emergency room of the Children’s Hospital in Nice, France, in June 2022. Working four days a week makes it easier to get things done around the house, like taking the kids to doctor’s appointments or arranging for the washing machine to be repaired. Reuters

Another company that has adopted a four-day week is insurance company Mutuelle du soleil. The company, which employs 250 people, will start on January 1, 2023, with salespeople working 32 hours a week with no telecommuting, and management working 35 hours a week with 50% telecommuting. Office workers previously worked 37 hours a week, five days a week, and received 10 days of RTT토토사이트 (pro-rated paid time off for hours worked in excess of 35 hours a week). Now she works 35 hours a week, 4 days a week, with no RTT. That’s a 2% reduction in overall hours. CEO Claude LeBlanc said that without reducing the workweek, “the day would have been too long.”

32- or 39-hour workweeks

“The four-day workweek allows for a certain balance between what can and cannot be done remotely,” says Lydie LeCorbe, head of labor and social work at the Office for Corporate Social Responsibility (ORSE). Hospitality, catering, and manufacturing are often limited by the nature of their business. This makes them less attractive. Oddly enough, most of the 4WD experiments are for white-collar jobs in insurance or consulting.” Experimentation is also passive. For example, at accounting firm KPMG in France, the four-day workweek (100 percent pay, 80 percent working hours) is only available to employees who have children for up to six months.

The consulting firm Accenture has implemented a four-day workweek in accordance with the March 2022 collective agreement on the implementation of flexible working arrangements. The workweek is 39 hours, and the workload is not reduced. Three days a week are 10 hours and one day is 9 hours. Nevertheless, the French Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions (CFDT), the French Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC), and the French Confederation of Professional and Administrative Employees (CFE-CGC) have all ratified the convention.

However, they have reservations “Flexible working arrangements should not undermine workers’ rights. Some workers try to work beyond reasonable levels in order to increase their ‘vacation days’. This can harm their health. As mentioned during the discussion of the Convention, the working day should not exceed 10 hours.”

A doll of “Frieze,” the mascot of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, is made at a toy manufacturer near the central city of Rennes in Brittany, northwestern France, April 12, 2023. The four-day work week has been spreading in France in recent years. Reuters

Jérôme Schumann, a union representative for the Democratic Labor Federation, highlights the terms of the agreement. The agreement has a three-year duration and a monitoring committee. “Without these conditions, we would not have ratified it,” he said. Before the agreement came into force, a four-day workweek was tested on 351 employees. Only half of them (172 to be exact) volunteered to participate. “Employees were more interested in working from home five days a week than in working four days a week,” explains Jérôme Schumann.

Some public institutions have similarly adopted a four-day workweek. These include the National Old Age Insurance Agency (CNAV), the Picardy branch of the URSSAF, and the town hall of Écully. At Ecully City Hall (18,000 inhabitants), many employees were trying to cram five days’ worth of work into four days and take a full day off. The town hall announced plans to change the work week to 35 hours spread over 4.5 days. Lidy LeCorbe is skeptical of the move. “The UK, Belgium, Iceland, and New Zealand thought long and hard about working hours and workloads before introducing a four-day week.”

Without such consideration, the four-day workweek becomes little more than a PR gimmick for companies looking to increase their appeal. “Job applicants are increasingly sensitive to work-life balance,” says Claude Calmon, founder of recruitment advisory firm Calmon Partners.

“The four-day workweek, like telecommuting, must be supported by new management practices.” (Claude Calmon) Employee management has become a

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *