Employers are utilizing a variety of tactics to attract enough workers to fill the job openings they have available, from better benefits to more flexible work arrangements. The four-day workweek is hardly a new concept, but few employers have implemented it to date. Could this strategy be a viable approach for companies to hire and retain new talent amid the "Great Resignation"? In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Nov. 15, Fool contributors Toby Bordelon, Jason Hall, and Rachel Warren discuss.
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Toby Bordelon: I think it's definitely going to impact the broader workforce if we do this. If we roll this out. It just has to because we're still locked on that five-day work week right now that if things start shifting around, it's going to change things. In terms of companies that might thrive here, I think that Zoom is probably an obvious choice, I mean, we all officially have five-days now, but I work on the weekends. I'm sure you guys are working from time-to-time and it's just the way it works. I suspect if we go to a four-day week, that's actually not going to change. Whatever you're off day is, you're still going to do a little work there and it's going to be the thing. Let's assume we get back to a point where a lot of people going back to the office.
Someone is going to be there when there's a 4-day work week office, someone's going to, oh an urgent thing came up, we've got to have a meeting right now. Bob's not here, it's Bob's day off. I'm going to go get him on Zoom and let's have this meeting. That's going to happen. You know it will, right. I mean, that's just the reality. I hate to burst anyone's bubble here if you are excited about this four-day idea, that's going to happen, just accept it.
You can sub in Microsoft for Zoom, if you want that, another company that you would have that would benefit from that needed connectivity in remote work tools at the office. But you look, let's go beyond that. Beyond the obvious stores, something crazy here, I'm thinking Home Depot Jason. Because what are we doing on our days off? [LAUGHTER] Home renovation. We're doing home projects.
Jason Hall: That's the thing. Those are the companies that would get killed by this at least initially because demand for what they do would increase.
Toby Bordelon: Suddenly instead of just everyone going on Saturday and now you've got like 20, 30% more traffic on some random Thursday because that's the day people decided to not work and like oh, I'm going to fix up my kitchen today. Good luck with that, I don't think you'll get it done before Friday, but knock yourself out.
Jason Hall: It's funny. I've been thinking through this and it. So the obvious, thriving companies are the ones that have animation tools, the ones that push out software, you mentioned like the Microsofts and Zooms and that kind of company, but also companies that make the equipment. That does, so you think about companies that do sensors, like TwoSix or is it IIBI, they're doing the laser sensors, that kind of stuff. Automation.
Those are companies I think that would thrive in that because they help companies figure out how to reduce their labor demands. Because that's the key behind all this. The companies that would initially get absolutely killed are the ones that are already just dying right now, as you think about Hertz, have you been on airport anytime in the past year, since it was six months really since demand has started to come back up. It's brutal. They don't have enough people. The job that wants that four-day, eight-hour shift or something like that, the most are the ones that are working six days, 10 hours right now because there aren't enough people to even fill it.
I wonder if in a surprising way if maybe making that change so that people could work more flexible, shorter schedules and it was part of the corporate culture would actually fix some of those staffing problems, because more people now that are part of that, no anti-work movement might be fine with working again because the job doesn't have them, they have the job. I think that's the challenge so many people are dealing with right now. It's fun to think about. It's fun to think about. We're hitting the halfway mark here.
I really like a couple of these questions that have come in here. Harold says this is related to the topic we just talked about. This is the same Harold that was on earlier. Harold is an IT. Says, I'd consider 80% salary for 80% of the time. Not really an option of any job I've had in the last 20 years. That's the thing, right Toby? Doesn't do much good if you've got to pick up Uber on your day off to bridge the gap. [LAUGHTER] It's not a day off anymore.
Toby Bordelon: I mean, it's the thing I remember when I was practicing law so working at a big law firm. So many people, so many of my colleagues had that same idea, I would love to do this job, just less.
Jason Hall: I just want to say that next time I need legal services, I'm going to insist that my attorney that I'm not one of the clients that he practices with. [LAUGHTER] He can practice with the other one.
Toby Bordelon: Get you the real service. I remember when so many of my fellow attorneys had that idea like this is a great job to do. I just wish I could do it less. Is there a way to scale back? Some firms are now doing that. It's more of a thing now. But back when I was working at least in the practice area I was working in the general response was that's not the way this works. You're either all-in or you're not. There just wasn't a lot of flexibility with that. And so people got burned out right, I think to the extent that you can you can pull things back and offer options and reduce burnout.
Retain some of that talent because it's a shame when someone who is really good walks away, and say, I just don't know if it is right for me, or in my case, I can't do this anymore. It's just too much and it's a shame when you lose talent, especially in a competitive marketplace. I think to the extent that you're able to adjust things and shift your thinking to retain qualified people. Even if you have a little bit less than that, it's going to be a good thing for a lot of businesses if they can figure out what the right balance is.
Jason Hall: Rachel, what about you? I think maybe the term is you like a digital nomad. You've spent a number of years traveling and finding a way professionally to make it work while you've been able to experience and live in a lot of different parts of the world. What's, I mean, somebody that's figured out how to optimize it, what are the things that have been the priorities for you have made it work?
Rachel Warren: I mean, it's funny because I freelanced for so long and now now I contract. But the whole idea of a four-day workweek has sounded really attractive, but it wasn't really practical with the kind of work I was doing for a long time. I guess one of the things that depending on the type of work you do, maybe you can cram all your assignments into a particular stretch of time and then take some some days off.
But I actually think if I was given the option, if I'd been back in my corporate days, I would have preferred the flexibility that I have now and that I've have had for years, the ability to say, hey, you know, today I think I'm going to start working a little later in the day unless of course I have a show or something.
Because I think that ability to work remotely and to do so often within your own time as long as you meet deadlines, I personally, if I've been given that option versus the four-day or three-day workweek, I think some have floated back in my corporate days, I did paralegal work in big law and I was a paralegal also in boutique firm as well.
I think for me it's the flexibility and the remote work that has been so integral to my ability to become a digital nomad around. I think that's what a lot of people are looking for. I do think it's interesting we're seeing these high quit rates. I don't personally believe that it's just that all these people are quitting and then they're not going to work.
I think some of it is that you look at the industries they are quitting and, you have these huge quit rates in areas like hospitality, in retail, in food services. Those, I think, are the same industries where there's been a lot of concerns about pay and safe working conditions over the years and that's only increased during the pandemic. But I think that's also something interesting to note, a long answer, but that's great.
Jason Hall: That's great. Personal insights really helped. I think you're right though about in so many of the jobs that people are walking away from, are the ones that are on the front lines. They are the ones that are shift work. Things that are more monotonous, viewed as less safe, like you said, especially during the pandemic.