Are four-day working weeks becoming the norm for SME’s?

Johnson Reed
3m read
Are four-day working weeks becoming the norm for SME’s?

Imagine waking up on a Friday morning and knowing that your weekend has already begun. Sounds good right?


June 2022 trials

Well research is showing that we may not be too far away from seeing this as the norm in the UK working world. Back in June this year, over 70 companies took part in a four-day working week trial which saw over 3,300 employees work from Monday-Thursday, with no loss of pay.

Results of this trial showcased that two thirds of businesses reported improvements in staff productivity, while 78% said staff were happier, less stressed (70%), took fewer days off ill (62%), and that a four-day working week helped them to attract and retain workers (63%) (

Ed Siegel, chief executive of Charity Bank suggested that “We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission.”


Latest Unemployment worries

With everything that is going on including rising energy bills and inflation, it may not come as a surprise that UK SME’s are reporting high levels of vacancies during some of the highest unemployment the country has seen since the 1970’s. This is sparking more SME’s to start to consider moving to a four-day working week in order to make employment more attractive by offering employees a better work-life balance.

The latest independent research from Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing reveals that around 51% of firms are desperately struggling to fill vacancies, which is reflected by the average time it is taking firms to fill them. For 46% of firms it ranges between two to three months, while for 36% it typically takes up to thirty days. Around 13% of businesses find it’s upwards of four months to find a suitable candidate for a role (


SME’s already taking the next steps

Of all the firms polled, around 52% of companies have already started to introduce measures to make their company employment terms more appealing. 33% are considering implementing a shorter working-week, whilst 19% already have.

“Small businesses are facing a multitude of pressures, but one thing we do know and understand is how resilient they are,” said Neil Davies, CEO of Close Brothers’ Commercial Division. “There are many options available to employees and employers are having to be creative to ensure they can attract the talent they need to guarantee success.”



To conclude, it seems like this may well be the next step that SME’s will start to take in order to combat the issues they are facing to fill vacancies. Whilst the four-day working week has been met with positive results and will improve morale and help recruitment, it isn’t without its sceptics. Not all industries will suit a 5-day working week with some requiring to be open 5, even 7 days including emergency services, public transport and logistics. It can also increase costs in some cases like healthcare, where they require staff to work long shifts. Companies in these areas may have to pay more overtime or draft staff in to make any shortfalls. So before deciding whether to implement a four-day working week into your company, ensure you weigh up the pros and cons for your business.

To find out more about how JR are working with SME’s and helping them preserve well-needed cash in their business, click here.