New Work

Xing survey examines concerns about four-day week

7 May 2024
Gap between desire and reality in terms of working time model 

A good 40 per cent of respondents would find a four-day week more attractive, according to a Xing online survey of 3,200 employees in German-speaking countries and published in May. This particular month has quite a few bank holidays including the Feast of the Ascension, Whit Monday, Corpus Christi leading to a generally shorter working week. But what would happen if the four-day week became standard and with the same weekly working hours?

Majority sceptical 

A shortage of both labour and skills are the new norm in Germany," said Thomas Kindler, Managing Director of Xing. "Most German employees are aware of this gap between desire and reality and the resulting difficulties." Only 30 per cent of respondents replied “Yes” when asked whether the four-day week with reduced working hours and full pay could be rolled out across Germany by 2029. Most (66 per cent) are critical of the medium-term feasibility of the model and this percentage drops with increasing age. While 44 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe it is feasible, only 18 per cent of over-50s (30 to 39-year-olds: 38 per cent, 40 to 49-year-olds: 31 per cent) think it is realistic. Furthermore, reservations about a four-day week are sector-specific. Only 25 per cent of respondents consider such a model feasible in industry, while 72 per cent consider it impractical. But what are the general doubts about implementing a four-day week with full pay and reduced working hours?

Pros and cons of fewer work days 

Two thirds (65 per cent) of respondents said there are too few workers in Germany for a reduced working week. One in two (52 per cent) expressed doubt that this would be financially viable. Almost half (49 per cent) fear that a four-day week would increase the workload. Around one in four assumed that this would not be feasible due to the difficult economic situation in the country. In addition, 37 per cent of those who are critical of full pay and reduced working hours say that a four-day week could lead to reduced production. Among the critics, 38 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds in particular said this would be unfair to them. Across the generations, only 22 per cent see it that way (30 to 39-year-olds: 17 per cent, 40 to 49-year-olds: 24 per cent, 50+: 19 per cent).

Retaining qualified employees 

Skilled workers are becoming increasingly scarce and especially in bottleneck sectors. On the one hand, it is a question of keeping a sense of proportion when it comes to employee expectations and, on the other hand, of retaining qualified employees . “And there are tried and tested ways of achieving this, even beyond the four-day week," said Kindler. 


Sources and further information

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