March 20, 2023

According to a study by the Manpower group, more than one in three French employees would be ready to see their salary reduced by around 5% in exchange for a four-day working week. Figures that highlight the desire of the French to have more free time and devote less time to work.

Work less to live and work better. This is what emerges from a study carried out by the Manpower group which confirms the willingness of more than one in three French people to sacrifice up to 5% of their salary to obtain a four-day working week. If more than 400 companies have already adopted it in France, experiments around this new work rhythm have multiplied since the health crisis.

The pandemic has changed perception of work many French employees. Whether telecommuting has won a place of choice in the hearts of the latter, the four-day week is also taking on a whole new dimension, in particular because of the desire of employees to have more free time for their families or for hobbies, and to devote less time to their work.

Work time sharing

The principle is simple: it is a question of offering the employees of a company the possibility of working four days a week, instead of five, while retaining the same salary. In other words, it is a question of better sharing working time to meet the needs of employees (free time, family obligations, leisure, etc.) and to enable companies to increase productivity.

In effect, several studies have shown that happy employees work better, and that employees who only work four days a week are more productive, because they are more invested in their daily tasks, and freer to organize their schedule as they wish.

On the business side, if the four-day week is implemented and a company creates 10% of jobs on permanent contracts, it is exempt from unemployment contributions. The company’s competitiveness is thus safeguarded (or even improved) and wages do not fall. Thanks to this exemption from unemployment contributions, the four-day week does not increase prices for consumers and business margins are preserved.

Balance between work and private life

If the initial principle is to keep the same salary while working one day less, the Manpower study shows that more than a third of employees would even be willing to sacrifice up to 5% of their salary to achieve this.

In fact, if we take the example of an employee who receives 2,300 euros per month, a 5% drop in salary would correspond to taking away 115 euros per month. A large sum, especially in times of inflationbut which could allow him to obtain a three-day weekend, or a day off in the middle of the week to take care of his children, or to indulge in leisure activities.

According to the president of the Manpower group, more and more French people are looking for a better balance between their private life and their professional life: “The candidates have the choice, and then each referee. We probably tended to think that remuneration was the important element. Rather, it should be seen as a balance that is being restored. People are ready to make a financial effort,” he explains.

Increased productivity and happiness of employees

In France, a handful of companies have taken the plunge in recent years, in particular thanks to the Robien law, which, before its repeal, made it possible to obtain exemption from social charges in the event of hiring at least 10 % additional employees. More than 400 French companies have thus chosen to better share their working time, in order to hire and increase productivity.

This is notably the case of Yprema, a company specializing in the recycling of construction materials, which adopted this mode of organization in 1997. 26 years later, Yprema still lives by the rhythm of the four-day week. A model that allows him to gain “one month per year of more productivity”, estimates the group on its website.

Since the health crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, other companies have also adopted this model. Inspired by the example of Microsoft in Japan, the Lyon-based company LDLC, which specializes in the sale of digital and computer equipment, has chosen to switch to 32 hours per week, paid 35, for its employees.

Since then, the leaders of the group have chained media interventions to testify to the benefits of the four-day week. A year after its establishment, Laurent de la Clergerie, president of LDLC, listed them himself in a text published on Linkedin: “Result: 6% growth, 20% profit gain and a balance between hiring and negative departure” .

The 4-day week tested on a large scale in the UK

Like these companies, many companies have noticed the benefits of a reduction in working hours, and wish to make this system permanent. Confidence in employees, productivity gains, attractiveness, ease of hiring, reduction of gender inequalities, and employee happiness: this phenomenon long decried by certain economists should attract more and more French people who wish to find a balance between professional life and privacy.

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