On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Dr. Benjamin Granger from Qualtrics about the possibility of taking a pay cut and working longer hours in exchange for a four-day work week.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 27 minutes
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Dr. Benjamin Granger
Dr. Benjamin Granger is an XM Catalyst at Qualtrics. He has over a decade of experience building EX measurement and management programs across the globe and leads research initiatives within the Qualtrics XM Institute.Follow
Music: This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen it’s William Tincup and you are listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Today we have Ben from Qualtrics and our topic is, would you take a pay cut and work longer hours for a four day work week? Which is a fantastic question. And usually the way I think about four day work weeks, is that we want to cramp 50 hours worth of work in four days. But I love the way that this is kind of set up for Ben and I to talk about. Ben, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself? And for those that don’t know Qualtrics, introduce Qualtrics.
Dr. Granger: Of course, Dr. Granger. I am a organizational psychologist by education. I lead employee experience advisory services at Qualtrics, and I’ve been here for right around seven years, which say often feels like 42 Dougie years with all the growth and the speed that we’ve been going and moving. And at Qualtrics, we are the creator of the experience management category, and we really are obsessed with helping organizations measure, manage and understand the experience that they’re creating for their employees, their customers, and all stakeholders at part of their ecosystem. So that’s what we’re about. And me and my team focus in particular on the employee experience.
William Tincup: Ben is being a little bit humble. Qualtrics is just a… I mean, it’s just a wonderful company and I’ve had the wonderful opportunity over the years of being able to interact with the conferences that you all put together. And just the way that you’ve kind of changed the conversation around experience. And especially as it relates to employee experience, but just experience in general. You aa have just done a wonderful job. And I mean, you’ve… The company’s… It’s a rocket ship. It’s done really well, but it’s done really well for all the right reasons. And that’s what I love about it. It’s just a great story. And every time I get out to salt lake, I actually find an excuse to then go by, see people.
Dr. Granger: It’s a great place to take a ride on a skateboard, scooter.
William Tincup: Yep.
Dr. Granger: Shoot some hoops in the lobby, come do a [inaudible 00:02:30].
William Tincup: Well, and again, the experience. You walk the walk, right? So you help your customers talk about experience and kind of navigate the tricky waters of experience. And at the same time, you do it. I mean, this comes from the board.
Dr. Granger: We do it.
William Tincup: And then the C-suite down. You actually do it, which I love. All right. So let’s jump into this four day work week and what… Because you all are a data company. And if people didn’t know that by assumption or association, or maybe the name. You all sit on a ton of data, which is great, because you can actually tell people, what’s really going on with your customers and things like that. So that’s good. What are you seeing as it relates to kind of the momentum either behind or in interacting with four day work week? What’s some of the trends that you’re seeing?
Dr. Granger: Well, in the most recent study that we did on this topic, we went out and we’re basically asking directly from employees, American employees, how do you feel about a four day work week and the possibility of that and what sort of minor trade offs would you be willing to make? How do you think this would help you… How would it impact your productivity, your work life balance, your mental health? And I think as you saw in the headlines, 92% of the employees that we surveyed said that they were interested in a four day work week and nearly 80% said they think it would improve their mental health about the same percentage said they think it would make them more productive and a much larger percent, almost 90% said that they think it would improve their work life balance.
And so we are seeing some interests and I think that’s the way I interpret these results, William, it’s like, this is indicating people’s… People are intrigued by it. They see the headlines of some of the other European countries who have been experimenting with this and some of the results. And we also have to remember the last two years, a lot of us have been working in hybrid and remote work environments. We’ve been working different hours. We’ve been working in different ways and now what used to seem impossible seems, “Hey, that might actually happen. That might be possible.” And so we’re seeing interest in it. That’s the way I interpret this.
William Tincup: Yeah. I gather kind of the same thing without the data that people are talking about it more, which is great, but I still think that, okay, in America at least, there’s a lot of talk. But I haven’t seen as many firms kind of make the move. And some of that I think is just the… Maybe COVID has gotten us a little gun shy around productivity and maybe that’s one of the reasons people want kind of the return to work or return to the office. A four day work week is going further down the path of dealing with trust and dealing with productivity that I’m not sure our leaders are ready for that. They definitely weren’t ready for COVID. Check, got that one.
And with the amount of press about the return to the office, you can kind of tell that they’re not ready to kind of be remote forever. Okay. All right. So if we think of the logical step of, okay, well, what if we actually… Well, what if we took a day away from work, not adding the hours back yet? So not making the kind of classic mistake of, okay, let’s cramp 60 hours into four days. That doesn’t help anybody, but let’s actually shave the hours and have 32 hours, 35 hours, whatever that might be, make that the bit. I see people talking about it, I see a lot of the potential on the upside.
I don’t see as many people actually doing it, but as a IO psychologist, which by the way, I lovingly refer to you all as propeller heads because I’ve spoken at [inaudible 00:07:03] a few times and two things about IO psychologists in general, of course, propeller heads and they can drink. So those two things… It’s been my experience, very limited, very, very small sample size, but three different [inaudible 00:07:23]. I can say that. I want to get your take from an IO psychology perspective. When you look at this and you say to yourself, okay, all righty? When you unpack it, what’s really the pros and cons to a four day work week?
Dr. Granger: You nailed a few of them. Just so happens, I was talking with one of my good colleagues and mentors and friends, Lisa Bellinger this morning about this topic. And she’s actually been experimenting herself with a four day week. And we were chatting about this in light of the research we just did. And one of the things she mentioned was it’s a huge mistake to think about the four day work week as, oh yeah, now we’re going to do four days a week and we’re going to do 10 hours a day, or just think about it in a vacuum as if there’s no trade off we have to make. Because that’s of course not true. Right? And also, I think that plays into these results and why… It’s interesting to see where people’s interest is, but there’s a difference between I can imagine a four day work week versus actually doing it for a year and then reflecting on that.
Right? Huge difference. Because you called us propeller heads as IOs. Hey, look William, on the weekend, when I think about a four day work week, my initial thought is, yeah, that’d be great to have an extra day where I could sit around and drink a beer and buy a pizza and just chill. But if I really did that, I know myself well enough, if I really did that, I wouldn’t be happier. That wouldn’t make me happy. What I probably would do over time, is I would start working and just being a little bit more choosy about what I would work on. Maybe I’d work on something different that would fit my interest. Being a psychologist, I bet that a lot of people would feel the same way, or if you really played out, what does that mean for you getting home?
Right. If we did do a four day work week, what would that mean for… Would you be able to be there in the morning to drop your kids off at school, if you’re a parent? Would that disrupt how long your kids need to be in childcare? I bet for a lot of people, it would. Would that disrupt your ability to be home, to have dinner with your children, which is something that’s very important to me personally, I think it would. Right? And we don’t often think about those trade offs because a lot of us haven’t experienced it yet. So I think there’s a big difference there between what people are interested in and considering, and what actually would make them happier or more productive. And so I think we have to experiment with this.
We would have to pilot this out, or before we start piloting this out, I think companies would be wise to do a much deeper level of listening. Use something like a conjoint analysis or a max stiffs approach to making people realize that there are significant trade offs if we were to move to this.
William Tincup: Right. That’s C-suite, all the way down to the receptionist. That’s everybody.
Dr. Granger: That’s right.
William Tincup: And I love kind of your thought process of saying, okay, don’t just jump into this. If this is something you really, really think is important to your employees and getting back to the employee experience part of what you do and what Qualtrics says so well. If this is really, really important, your people are going to tell you it’s really important. And then you need to validate it and invalidate it. And then as you’re validating it, then go, okay, how do we operationalize this so that we reset or set expectations correctly, for everyone.
Dr. Granger: Right.
William Tincup: Right. So just the moving. It’s not like… When I talk to younger people about socialism, I think they think that socialism… Or they think that older people think that socialism is a bad word. I’m like, socialism’s not a bad word. If you want free college, you can get there. It’s just going to take five generations. So you can get there from here. You just can’t get there overnight. And I think something similar when I look at the four day work week, we can get there, if we all want to get there and it’s important, we’re going to have to restructure and reset our expectations. When you look at the four day, week, and the topic is, as a candidate, what would you be willing to trade off? Or, as an employee, what would you be willing to trade to get the legitimate four day work week? So what is the data? What have you learned… While we’re on it, what have you learned that people are actually willing to trade?
Dr. Granger: There’s a few things we asked about. One, nearly 40% of the people we surveyed said they would actually be willing to take that pay cut, right as you alluded to the beginning, they would take a 5% pay cut.
William Tincup: Wow.
Dr. Granger: In exchange for a four day work week. So nearly 40% said that 8% said that they would take a 20% pay cut for a four day work week. What was also interesting is, that percentage tended to be higher for tech employees. So employees in tech, 54% of them said they would be willing to take that 5% pay cut or more in exchange for a four day work week. So that’s a little bit… Now, I can’t say we did, in this particular study, we didn’t do a true trade off analysis. Right?
William Tincup: Right.
Dr. Granger: We didn’t do a conjoint. So we have to be careful about how we interpreted, but at least on the surface, people are saying, yeah, I could imagine myself… That would be something I could imagine myself trading off.
William Tincup: I wonder how much of that is… More study, more data of course, for both of us. But I wonder how much of that is… It just sounds like a really fun idea. It’s almost like-
Dr. Granger: Honestly think that’s part of it.
William Tincup: You know what I mean? Hey, we’re going to do a trip to south beach. That’s never a bad idea. Right?
Dr. Granger: Never. Never a bad idea.
William Tincup: Never a bad idea.
Dr. Granger: In fact, we should go do this podcast in south beach.
William Tincup: We’re going to do part two of this podcast next week in south beach. All right. Never a bad idea. However, once it’s explained as to how this will fundamentally change work and change the outcomes of work and maybe restructure the expectations and maybe mobility and kind of like… Some of the things that we’re not kind of drawing down on the unintended consequences, it’s easy to say that this is a good idea until we know more about how it’s actually going to change our lives. And so I love the idea. Every time people talk about it, I’m like, “I love the idea.” And then all of a sudden I settle into the pragmatic part of myself. [crosstalk 00:15:06]
Dr. Granger: Right.
William Tincup: Yeah. But would I really take off that day? And I don’t-
Dr. Granger: That’s the question, right?
William Tincup: I don’t think I would.
Dr. Granger: I don’t think I would either. I think that maybe the knee jerk reaction of some listeners would be like, you guys are nuts, but really think about it. Right? Really think about that question. And on the trade off part, William, there was another side of it. So we asked about… Of these same people saying that they would be interested in taking a four day work week, what might the impact be for their customers? And nearly 50% said that it probably would have a negative impact on sales and revenue. So that’s telling. And 55%, it would probably frustrate customers, right? People are already anticipating and are thinking probably the mindset here as they’re responding, is imagine if we took a four day work week, but the rest of the country or the rest of the world didn’t. Right? So that’s the assumption. But I think what you’re touching on, is right. This probably would have to be something that’s more systematic. That happened if everybody’s voices started to raise. So we wouldn’t see some of these unintended consequences that are likely to happen if some companies move to four day work weeks.
William Tincup: Because you’ve seen the movement of remote first and you’ve seen this through the pandemic and some of those companies might have already been down that path. Like, oh, we don’t want to spend a whole lot of money in corporate headquarters and talents global. Maybe they just were relatively visionary there. Most people I know were completely caught off guard.
Dr. Granger: Right.
William Tincup: And they woke up with a remote company and you talk to the C-suite and they’re like… Oh, by the way, they’re not paying all this money and rent that they don’t get anything for. Right? If you can get the productivity and you don’t have to pay rent. Okay. Yeah, let’s do remote. The question is, the pandemic forced us, whether or not we liked it or not, and still does. It forced change. Do you think with four day work week… Do you think we need something else to force the change?
Do we need societal pressures or other types of factors or something, God forbid another type of thing like a pandemic to then force us to there? And or, do you think it’s easier now that we’re already in kind of a flexible work mindset that if you’re going to do it, now is actually probably a pretty good time to explore the four day work week. If you’ve been thinking about it for a decade. Yeah. Now is probably the best time ever to be thinking about it, if you’re going to do it. Again, still small sample size pilot, make sure it’s the right thing, all that other stuff. But if you’re going to do it, now’s just as good a time as any. So what’s your perception of that?
Dr. Granger: I believe that we’ve seen enough companies adjust very quickly to the point where employees now know what’s possible. And they also know that what used to seem impossible. Right? Well, we’re a work from work culture. And all of a sudden that changed overnight as you pointed out. As a funny aside, one of my good friends and colleagues, Steve Hunt, another IO psychologist, AKA propeller-head, he used to joke. He’s like, I always was remote. And then everybody just entered my office all of a sudden
William Tincup: Truth. And not too far off. Go ahead.
Dr. Granger: Yeah. Yeah. But to kind of continue that point, if people are considering it now, I think the iron’s hot to explore it. But like you said, having this data and knowing, that most Americans are intrigued by the idea, which to be clear, that’s how I interpret this.
William Tincup: Right. Me too.
Dr. Granger: We have to go in… Each of our companies has to listen more specifically to what do our employees feel like. Right? Realizing that this is not possible for certain industries. It’s not possible for certain job types. And the four day work week to me falls within an umbrella of workplace flexibility. And when I think about flexibility, it’s partially when work gets done, how work gets done, where work gets done, and then some of the ancillary pieces of supporting. Right? How you use your mental health aids or you could call that norms. How the norms of the organization to support flexibility in how people use their vacation time or mental health time. So it’s all of that.
And so I would advise companies… Yes, the four day work week is intriguing. You need to listen more specifically, you need to do the pilots. You need to do the conjoint analysis to really get people to think about the trade offs before you go pilot this, and then determine whether it’s the right thing, given all the trade offs. But I would challenge companies to think more broadly about flexibility, because again, for those industries where that’s not even possible. It may never be possible. There’s other levers they can pull when it comes to workplace flexibility. So to answer your question, I think… Look, if it’s going to happen, the irons hot right now.
William Tincup: Right. Yeah. I get the same sense that… But I love the way that you framed it up. It’s like, listen maybe the four day work week for the entire company isn’t the play. Maybe we just rethink flexibility. We’ve been talking about flexibility since the sixties, especially women in the workplace have been talking about flexibility. We’re just now kind of 50 years later, we’re just now kind of getting around to it, which is fine, but we’re here now. And maybe this is just an offshoot of that. And it might be more palatable for everybody to then just say, hey, you know what? At the end of the day, we’re outcomes based. Whatever business this is. It’s an outcome based business. If you want to be on a four day work week…
Okay. Well, that’s a flexibility thing. It’s a mental health thing. That’s a couple things considerations. And if you don’t want to be on a four day work week, okay. That’s fine as well. And I think just finding that balance and parody and making sure that people understand the trade offs, which we’ve talked about a couple different times in different ways over the podcast. Moving to a four day work week, like free college, you can get there, but there’s going to be trade offs. And I don’t think it’s as intrigued as we are. I don’t think we really fully understand the trade offs that we’d have to make.
Dr. Granger: I agree. And I would echo again, what you said. I think we need to be flexible in how we define flexibility.
William Tincup: Right.
Dr. Granger: That’s going to help. Yeah.
William Tincup: So last question from just an employee experience perspective, because you’re sitting on so much data, I got to ask. What are you seeing right now as we kind of entered the second year of COVID? The two year anniversary, if you will. What are you seeing as kind of the big trends and employee experience that people should really be paying attention to?
Dr. Granger: We did a lot of work on this William and one big thing, I think that underpins a lot of the results that we’ve seen, which I’ll touch on is, expectations have changed dramatically. When we saw companies adjust their workplace policies, working remotely or working hybrid, people saw increased communication from their senior most leaders during that time of crisis. They saw more frequency of that communication and they recognized it. They appreciated it. The double edged sword to that is when we start pulling those measures back, right? Oh, we’re out of our crisis time. Now we’re going to go back to the office or now we’re going to stop doing the quarterly webcast with the CEO. Well, everybody’s saying, “Well, where did that go? I liked that. That was helpful for me.” You could say the same thing about the progress that we’ve been making in diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging.
We’ve had so much energy around that over the last two years, thankfully, to be clear. But what we are seeing is people are seeing how much organizations can impact and how quickly they can change and get better in these areas. And they want more. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that these expectations are shifting, but we have to be aware of that. Some of the other trends related to that, that I’ll call out. We’re seeing now people leaders, especially female people leaders are at a high risk for voluntary turnover, right? They’re in this really squeezed spot in a lot of organizations. And that could be massively disruptive. Not only to the progress that we made for women in the workplace, would have dramatic effects on diversity, equity, inclusion, initiatives, and companies. But obviously from just a change management standpoint, we’re talking about senior female leaders that are saying, they’re at a high risk for voluntarily leaving.
So these are some of the things that we’re really seeing as potential challenges moving forward, but really critical that we keep our eye on these and we keep the progress going. But that doesn’t mean… What’s going to happen, is a lot of companies are going to continue to measure DEI. They’re going to continue to measure intention to stay of their female leaders. And they might still see gaps moving forward. The trick is, that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.
William Tincup: Right.
Dr. Granger: It might mean you are making progress, but now the expectations are also increasing with it. And that’s a good thing.
William Tincup: It’s fascinating to bring that up because I absolutely agree that the expectations… Now, the interesting thing about remote and a lot of the jobs that maybe pre-pandemic, would’ve thought you have to go to the box. You have to be in the box, like say demand generation for marketing. You have to go to the box. You got to be in the box to do that job. Now, those employees, those candidates, they know they don’t have to go to the box.
Dr. Granger: Right.
William Tincup: And there’s so many of them are going, I’m not going to the box. Now again, there’s flexibility in that, some people do want to go to a box. Some people do want to go a corporate headquarters. So we’ve got to watch kind of… And be really interesting, be flexible with our employees and our candidates to where… What do you want? What’s your best setup? How do we get to the best version of you? And what do we do to enable that? Is that a four day work week? Is that remote? Is that coming into the office every day? At the end of the day, we shouldn’t care other than, they’re having a great experience and we’re getting the productivity that we all want.
Dr. Granger: And one of the things we always say is, when you design an experience to make everyone happy, you make no one happy. Because everybody’s needs are slightly different. And I think that definitely goes for this case of four day work week workplace flexibility. Just as a simple example, a young parent, a four day work week might be a disaster.
William Tincup: Yep.
Dr. Granger: For them. Just for childcare purposes. For someone who doesn’t have children, it might be phenomenal. Right? But we have to be flexible, in how we define flexibility.
William Tincup: I love that. I love that. It’s like the phrase, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s like to your point, we have to think about flexibility and be flexible around what we think about flexibility. And again, it’s meeting the needs and exceeding the needs of our candidates and our employees. And they’re different. And they change.
Dr. Granger: Exactly.
William Tincup: It’s like, they’re always-
Dr. Granger: That’s a good point.
William Tincup: So that single person that loves the four day work week, they might love it and then four months later go, you know what? I want to go into the office. I want to go into the office. I want to be around people. I want to meet new people. And so we have to have a finger on the pulse of how their needs change. And again, being radically flexible with the way we think about flexibility.
Dr. Granger: That’s such a good point, William, that you made that those things change over time, even within the person.
William Tincup: Right? Yeah.
Dr. Granger: I mean, we saw it over the last two years, right?
William Tincup: Yep. Yep. Yep. Well, listen, this has been fantastic and a great topic. So thank you for carving out some time and your wisdom and I appreciate you being on the show.
Dr. Granger: Of course. Well, I’m looking forward to part two at south beach.
William Tincup: Me too. I’ve already ordered a Mojito. But thank you. Thank you again. Seriously. Thank you. And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.