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Four day week desire increases

04/05/11
  • Accountancy and financial services professionals willing to sacrifice £11,000 a year for longer weekends
  • The 4-day working week would cost the treasury £1.2bn a year in lost tax
  • Better job security and work iPhones increase desire for better work-life balance

66% of accountancy and financial services professionals say they are more attracted by the prospect of a four-day week than a year ago, according to research from accountancy and financial services recruiter Marks Sattin.

Two-thirds say they are willing to cut their salary by a fifth and lose £11,000 a year to have a three-day weekend, indicating a growing desire for a better work-life balance.

In a poll of 2,882 accountancy and financial services professionals, only 6% said they are less attracted to a four day week than this time last year, while just over a quarter of respondents said they felt no differently.

Are you more of less attracted to a 4-day Week than you were last year?

Dave Way, managing director of Marks Sattin, said, “Appetite for a greater work-life balance is a sure indication that people feel more secure in their jobs. Since the recession, people have had to knuckle down and work harder. But as the economy picks up and there is less pressure on employers to make redundancies, people are increasingly prioritising a work-life balance. During hard times presenteeism increases and people work longer hours - the quality of their lifestyle becomes less of an issue when they are they are constantly looking over their shoulder. Employers now need to look at whether their current employment terms are flexible enough to satisfy this demand.”

Mark Sattin’s research concluded that if all the accountancy and financial services professionals in the country revert to a four-day week, it would cost the treasury £1.2bn in lost income taxes. With Mark Sattin’s 2011 salary survey showing the average salary in accountancy and finance now sitting at £53,800, the loss of income tax would equate to £24 million a day.

This follows the news that the succession of bank holidays in the second half of April will cost the economy £40bn.

Dave Way said, “The UK will all but close for business in the next few weeks, and small businesses in particular will be dealt a savage blow by the loss of man hours. This gives a small flavour of the hit the economy would take if it did revert permanently to a four day week. It would take employers and employees time to adapt and maintain the same levels of productivity as during a five day week.”

The research found technology has also increased the desire for a four-day working week as people find it harder to escape from work and relax. Those with smart phones like Blackberries had 13% more emails than those without, and spent two and a half times longer checking their emails.

Dave Way said, “Technology has blurred the boundaries of where a working week begins and ends. The Blackberry means more people are working remotely at weekends and in the evenings, and this eats into their free time. This has created an appetite for a three-day weekend because of the amount of work people are required to do outside the office. They also feel technology allows them to work more flexibly, as well as remotely, so the four day week has become more viable and would allow people to fit their work around their interests.”

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