Mental health improves in employees after company moves to 4-day work week

Posted at 1:44 PM, Oct 16, 2020

Think about this: working 80 percent of the hours for 100 percent of the pay.

It's a concept a Denver company wondered if it’d work for them. This summer, Uncharted decided to put it to the test.

CEO Banks Benitez says he started looking into it in 2019. He brought it to his executive board, and they decided it was something they were going to implement in 2020. Then, COVID-19 happened.

"So, we asked this question, 'Do we need to be working like crazy hours right now or do we need to really think about how we care for the mental health of our team and give people some space?'" said Benitez.

This summer, they launched an experiment, hiring a third-party company to evaluate the efficacy of the experiment. The team worked Monday through Thursday, taking every Friday off. The hours were not made up throughout the week. The team worked four 8-hour workdays.

They looked at three main things: performance, culture, and mental health.

"Performance stayed the same and was constant over the course of the experiment compared to previous performance," said Benitez.

Culture, he says, slightly improved at the Denver-based company. People felt just as or a little more connected to members on their team.

Lastly, to no surprise, mental health improved.

"I know that our best work comes when our team is healthy when our team is mentally healthy, when our team is aligned and in touch with each other," said Benitez.

Benitez says there’s a different mentality that his employees bring in when they have a four-day workweek. They’re more focused and clearer about priorities. However, there are some downfalls

"There’s a little bit less buffer time to kind of just go with the wind. You have to be really thoughtful about how you structure your time. And of course, the benefit of that is, Fridays are off," said Benitez.

That helps lead to more downtime and time to refresh before starting the work grind again Monday morning.

"How do we situate Uncharted within the broader life that they’re living, [whether] that’s family, kids, adventures, travel, all that stuff. And if we can do that, I think the team will come back and perform better," said Benitez.