Recruiter Guide

4-day week: why do we need a national pilot in France?

The four-day week: a subject of much debate. Some love it, some hate it, and some have already adopted it. But all have strong opinions, not always factual.

Yet 91% of the 350 companies that took part in a pilot project decided to continue with the four-day week. Associated university studies show the benefits for both companies and employees: enhanced well-being and improved productivity.

In France, recruitment for the first national pilot began in April. Getting away from the ideological debate and focusing on the facts

Why are we talking so much about the four-day week today?

The world of work has changed considerably in recent years:

  • The female employment rate has risen from 25% to 80%.
  • Innovation, particularly digital innovation (and soon AI), is accelerating.
  • Retirement contribution periods are getting longer.
  • Generation Z is looking for meaning, environmental impact and flexibility.
  • Hyperconnectivity is omnipresent.

While working hours have been halved in the last hundred years, the working week has been reduced from six to five days since 1926!

The profound transformation of work crystallizes tensions

  • Absenteeism: over 24 days per employee/year (+75% in 12 years).
  • Burnout: threefold increase post-COVID, with 13% of employees suffering from severe burnout.
  • Attractiveness and retention: three-quarters of SMEs are struggling to recruit, and Generation Z employees stay in their jobs for an average of 18 months.
  • Declining commitment: only 7% of employees in France are committed, one of the lowest rates in Europe.

4-day week vs. 4-day week

It's crucial to differentiate between a four-day week (reduced) and a four-day week (compressed).

The former - 4-day week - is beneficial for both the company and its employees: performance, mental and physical health, increased commitment, attractiveness - and even sales.

The second - the EN 4-day week - exacerbates the very problems it seeks to solve: stress at work, parenthood, fatigue...

The national pilot on the 4-day week, supported by offers eight months' support to help every company find ITS optimal four-day week format. Because while working time is reduced, formats can be very varied, even within different departments of the company.

In other words, the 4-day week doesn't have to mean Friday off!

Lessons learned from pilots around the world

Pilots on the 4-day week, followed by 350 organizations worldwide (UK, Brazil, Australia, South Africa) have shown :

  • lower absenteeism (-65%)
  • a reduction in burnout (-2/3)
  • less stress for employees (-33%)
  • better retention (57% fewer resignations).

These results, drawn from university research, guarantee the objectivity needed for debate.

As far as companies are concerned, sales are either stable or increasing in the vast majority of cases. Better still, twelve months on, 100% of UK CEOs believe that the four-day week has had a positive effect on their company.

Testing: yes, but methodically

77% of working people in France would like to see a four-day week, and two-thirds of managers are interested in it. However, for a manager, there are three questions to ask:

  • Where to start?
  • How to avoid reinventing the wheel?
  • How can I take into account the specificities of my company and the law (RTT, fixed rate for managers and supervisors, collective bargaining agreements, public holidays, etc.)?

Will France get on board?

Yes, with the launch of the first national pilot scheme in 2024. It is aimed at companies with 10 or more employees wishing to test the 4-day week for 6 months (and prepare for it 2 months in advance).

The pilot includes strategic and operational guidance, legal support (company agreement), online training and access to the largest 4-day community, and dedicated university research with Em Lyon Business School.

Further information

👉 Find out more and take part in the national pilot on the 4-day week