Utah was the first (and only) state in the U.S. to move to a mandatory four-day workweek. Under the system, which was implemented by former Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2008, almost all state employees were converted to a schedule of four, 10-hour days per week. As readers of this blog may recall, I have not been the biggest proponent of the four-day workweek. See The Cons of a 4-Day Workweek.
But not everyone agreed. In fact, for a while, the compressed-week schedule was very, very popular and local governments around the country began to initiate pilot groups to test it. These efforts were supported by announcements that the Utah program was generating lots of savings for the State and lauded as an official “success.”
Well, as it turns out, Utah may have been wearing rose-colored glasses when it made the “success” determination, according to a recent audit. The State admitted that it had not seen the reduced energy costs that it had hoped for (realizing only about $500,000 in savings in the first year, as compared to the expected $3 million). But the audit says it goes a bit deeper, finding that the State overestimated how much money it saved in saved overtime and other costs. In fairness to the Utah program, though, employee surveys do indicate that employees prefer the four-day workweek, so there must be some supporters.
Katie Keuhner-Herbert’s article on Human Resource Executive about the audit and the four-day workweek program in Utah. See Reassessing Four-Day Workweeks. The article points out some of the flaws in the four-day workweek and pinpoints some sticking points for employers and employees alike. (For purposes of full disclosure, I’m quoted in the article–but don’t let that deter you.)