Demand is strong for a four-day working week, as workers want more flexibility

26 May, 2022

  • There may be a trade-off to be made with employers between pay and other priorities
  • Around half would take a pay cut to get more flexibility or a better work-life balance

London UK – 26 May 2022: Workers want more flexibility in their working lives, such as moving to a four-day working week, and they are prepared to make compromises to get it, according to the ADP® Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View.

The survey of almost 33,000 workers in 17 countries reveals that more than seven in 10 (71%) would like more flexibility over how they structure their working time, for example compressing hours down into fewer, longer days. In the UK, 60% say so.

While workers say pay is the most important factor in a job, the research also found that around 50% would be prepared to accept a pay cut to get more flexibility or control over their working lives.

Additionally, 53% would accept a pay cut if it meant improving their work-life balance, and a similar proportion (50%) would take a pay cut to guarantee flexibility in how they structure their hours – even if it meant the total hours worked did not change.

Given that 71% of workers have contemplated making a major career move in the past year, employers who are prepared to be open-minded and accommodating on this front could benefit when it comes to recruitment and retention. The report explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

Sirsha Haldar, General Manager UK, Ireland & South Africa at ADP, comments: “Workers are demonstrating strong demand for innovative alternative options to the traditional nine-to-five to keep them satisfied at work.”

“For employers who are still grappling with what the post-pandemic working environment should like, and how to keep their staff happy after all the pressures they have endured and the dedication they have shown, giving them more flexibility and control over when they work could be worth considering.”

“With some employers starting to trial modernisations like a four-day working week, creative thinking is already beginning to translate into real world change. If they can make it work while ensuring business needs continue to be met, it could be win-win all round.”

“At the moment, there is a very long list of what workers want from a job. Although pay is an immediate concern for many workers, flexibility and work-life balance are very much front of mind too. There may be a trade-off to be made between pay and other priorities.”

“Understanding this could help employers manage competing demands, at a time when attracting and retaining skilled, talented staff is one of the most business-critical issues of the day.”

“Not so long ago, ideas like adopting widespread flexi-time or allowing employees to condense their hours down into four days might have been laughed off. Now they merit serious thought, especially if granting requests for higher wages is not a viable option.”


For more insights, please read the ‘People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View’ report

About the research

People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

ADP Research Institute® surveyed 32,924 workers in 17 countries around the world between 1 November and 24 November 2021. This included

  • 15,683 in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK)
  • 3,829 in North America (USA and Canada)
  • 5,768 in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
  • 7,644 in Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India and Singapore)

The survey was conducted online in the local language. Overall results were weighted to represent the size of the working population for each country. Weightings are based on labour force data from the World Bank, which is derived using data from the ILOSTAT database, the central statistics database of the International Labour Organization (ILO), as of 8 February 2022.



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