Over half the industry (55%) would like to work a four-day week; that’s what the 2023 Annual Events Industry Salary Survey has told us. In an industry that is known for its stress inducing hours and ‘drop everything to please a client’ approach, this request should be seen as a seismic shift in how our people now want to work, and as an industry we need to listen. No more is a huge workload and high anxiety seen as a badge of honour, finally.
Just how practical it is to implement is another question.
A four-day week isn’t squeezing all of your hours into four days (that’s called compressed hours), and it isn’t working four days for 80 percent of your usual salary (that’s just working part time). A genuine four-day week is working for four days and getting paid the usual full time, five days a week salary with a pro rata workload.
I can almost hear the employers out there shuddering and proclaiming, “Well of course everyone would like to do this, who wouldn’t? But where does that leave our clients, our workload, our profit…?” We are a service industry that dovetails into many other industries, and our output is usually focused on being responsive to the needs of the clients we serve.
A four-day working week currently doesn’t work in our industry. It’s not a thing, it’s not what we do. In the white paper, a few employers pointed out that they can’t even implement a ‘leave early Friday’ for their team because that’s when they are preparing for weekend events. But what if we all collectively decided that Monday is the new Sunday? That every Monday is now to be treated as a bank holiday when absolutely no-one worked, and none of our clients would expect anyone to answer the phone (do Gen X, Y, Z or whatever even pick up the phone now?). This may work for some companies, but the majority of venues operate 24/7 with leisure customers as well as business events so how could they operate with a team only working for four days?
Is there a middle ground? Would expecting everyone to get their full-time job done in four days lead to people working long hours and more stress? Would employers have to employ staff to cover that missing day? Would companies have to find efficiencies that would effectively give them a 20% increase in output? Could we look at fractional working where its down to the management to review a job and decide on the output required and what is expected from that person, and not just focus on the hours? Many surveys showed that working from home increased productivity by 25%; if that’s so then why do we need to work that fifth day at all?
Employers, it’s not your fault that you don’t know how to do this, but you will have to get your head around this fact; your employees want a more controlled work/life balance. Working five days a week and having two days off just doesn’t cut it anymore. The ratio is changing and becoming far more balanced to 50:50, well it would be 4:3 but you get my drift. Work / life balance is a key motivator, and we will have to seriously start looking at how we shift our way of working to encompass these needs. This may not be imminent – it will not be our future, and it may not even be my children’s future, but it will be the future for their children.
Fundamentally, as an industry we have to recognise that things need to change and the people that are going to need to drive this are the employers. The industry has spoken, and we need to listen. Eventprofs want to work a four-day week; this is happening and we as an industry need to be ready.