Two-fifths of British workers want 4 day working week to reduce stress

  • Two fifths (39%) of the nation’s employees wish their employers would trial a four-day working week in order to reduce burnout, new data shows.

  • The findings encourage employers to promote healthy working habits, such as regular screen breaks.

  • Almost half (44%) of employees report feeling burnt out at work, while 1 in 3 find maintaining a work/life balance to be the most stressful aspect. 

  • Dr Anneli Gascoyne stresses the importance of taking regular breaks and establishing a healthy work/life balance in order to tackle harmful burnout.

Nearly two fifths (39%) of employees would like to trial a four day working week, in order to reduce feelings of burnout and stress, new findings show.

The findings come from a Just Eat for Business study that looks to reveal what employees really want in order to tackle harmful stress and burnout at work, and to urge employers to encourage a healthy work/life balance. 

It is concerning that a large portion of employees desperately need a break from work, given that over two fifths of respondents feel burnt out – described as ‘a state of physical and mental exhaustion which can occur when one experiences chronic workplace stress’. 

Workers’ experiences of burnout differs from role to role, with those working in management accounting for the highest proportion (46%) of those who’ve suffered.

There appears to be a correlation between those who skip breaks and those who feel burnt out, with 73% of workers who report feeling burnout also admitting they don’t take a break until lunch, while 46% don’t stop looking at their screen until the end of the working day.

For those who struggle with poor mental health, the survey found that 1 in 3 employees find maintaining a healthy work/life balance to be the most stressful aspect of work. 

It’s not surprising that it’s hard maintaining a work/life balance, given that 28% of employees struggle to switch off after work, leading to a fifth putting in overtime every single day.

When asked what they’d like to change about their working environment to reduce stress, two fifths (39%) of employees said trialling a four day working week. 

Says Dr Anneli Gascoyne, Associate Professor in Occupational Psychology:

“When we take breaks from our screens, we have the opportunity to shift our perspective and recharge our energy, motivation and concentration.

“When we focus solely on our screens over an extended period, we can find ourselves on autopilot before suddenly realising how much time has passed that wasn’t being used effectively.”

These feelings of disconnectedness and distraction can intensify during stressful periods, as Dr Anneli states: “When we’re feeling behind on work, there can be a strong temptation not to take a break. But trying to maintain focus over a long period of time is counterproductive.”

Adds Rosie Hyam, People Partner at Just Eat for Business:

“Regardless of how teams are working – whether it’s in the office, at home, or a hybrid solution – it’s essential to take regular breaks. Without these, it’s not surprising that so many workers are feeling more burnt out than before.

“Given the emphasis currently being placed on health and wellbeing, it’s important that employers and employees prioritise sustainable and healthy working habits – including taking more regular screen breaks, and setting time aside to socialise with colleagues.”

Chris Price