Career Advice

New Study Shows 83% Of Americans Want a 4-Day Workweek—Boomers Included

Allie Flinn

Photo: Getty Images / Morsa Images
Earlier this year, I began to question my life priorities, which led to some pretty dramatic changes...including moving to a new city and scaling back how much work I was taking. While my situation and reasons are longer and more nuanced than anyone reading this article would be interested in (short answer: burnout), they are part of a larger trend in the workforce that spans all generations: Americans are re-evaluating the meaning of work, and we overwhelmingly want a four-day workweek.

In a GoodHire survey of 4,000 Americans who work full-time (including Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers), researchers found that 83 percent of Americans want a four-day workweek. "Remote work, increased autonomy, daily flexibility, layoffs, and decreases in pay have all led to a shift in mindset for the American workforce. Rather than just going through the motions of a 9-to-5, employees are now pondering the meaning of work," the report says.

"I'm not at all surprised that people want a four-day workweek. Too many people feel like they don‘t really own their own lives because they have too many responsibilities to really be present," says clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD, author of Understanding Bipolar Disorder. "People often have to make tough choices between money and a career they love, or between performing well at the job they have versus moving forward, or spending time with family, friends or on other passions."

In case you're skeptical that a four-day workweek is viable, the report points to Iceland's four-day workweek experiment, which was conducted between 2015 and 2019. The groundbreaking experiment found that not only were employees just as—or more—productive than working a five-day workweek, their well-being dramatically improved, and burnout decreased.

A four-day workweek could contribute to a better quality of life because you have "more time for loved ones, art, music, to linger over a meal instead of rushing through it, things like that," Dr. Daramus says. "Right now, It‘s so easy to say that you‘ll do something more satisfying after dinner or this weekend or next month. Somehow that time never comes. Life isn't that satisfying when you rush through it trying not to fall behind. You don‘t have a chance to feel that you own your own time."

In order to get the most out of a four-day workweek (in case you're lucky enough to have a workplace that's shifted to that model), Dr. Daramus says that it it would be extra important to resist the idea that you're only valuable if you're busy. "I‘ve noticed that for a lot of people, they have almost no concept of free time. They feel guilty if they're not making progress at something. Some people will need help learning how to have free time and why that‘s important in its own way."

"This study tells us who is happy at work, but not why. That's important to know," Dr. Daramus adds. "Is it because each generation has different values? Is it tied to office culture? The study notes that millennials have a reputation for being entitled and disgruntled, but this study says they're happier at work. What are they doing differently? Are they thinking differently? Are they more likely to advocate for better working conditions?" These are all things to ponder as we re-evaluate the 9-to-5 grind.

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