Pros and cons of a shortened workweek
October 27, 2016
Switching to a four-day workweek for county employees has generated much discussion in Grand County. Some County departments, such as Road and Bridge and the Sheriffs Department Front Office are currently on the four-day work schedule. Over the past few months the subject has been discussed between the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), County employees, and citizens.
Residents of mountain communities tend to take their time off very seriously. Those who are avid outdoor recreationists will often spend almost every minute of their time off recreating outdoors. Living in a mountain town can be a challenge with high taxes and the ever-lasting struggle to find affordable housing. For many, however, the access to the vast mountain terrain makes it all worth it if they like to spend time outside. This can present the challenge of balancing your time-off with incentivizing employees to work for the county.
A shortened workweek would mean county services would be closed one day a week (Friday), but employees would continue to work 37.5 hours by increasing the hours on the other four days.
At the July 26 BOCC meeting the four-day workweek was discussed. The Commissioners had requested a pros and cons list of the shortened workweek, and Patty Brown conducted a survey of county employees to see what their thoughts were.
The following lists are some reoccurring pros and cons presented by county employees included in the supporting documents to the BOCC's July 26 meeting.
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Boost employee morale
Employees have endured cuts to benefits; raises are unfeasible in the foreseeable future, there continues to be discussion of further cuts to employee benefits for the future; this has lead to a decrease in employee morale; a shortened work week is a great opportunity to show county employees that they are valued and appreciated;
it could be a creative way of compensating employees at a time when there is no financial way to compensate them.
Most employees in the survey chose a four day work week over a $1per hour raise, Once the proposed raise reached up to $2 per hour some employees said they would chose the raise over the shortened work week.
Remove current inequities between offices
Inequities exist in the Administration Building and other departments as there are many employees who are receiving the benefit of a four-day workweek or being able to do flex-time. A four-day week would eliminate the inequities.
the shortened workweek would be good for families; employee's physical and mental health; employees should be working to live; not living to work; Grand County schools are only four days per week and the ski resorts offer special opportunities for the school kids on Fridays—this would allow them participate as a family; more able to enjoy the recreational benefits Grand County has to offer.
Decrease employee stress
Many county jobs have a high-stress level, especially the Clerk and Recorder's office, and the shortened work week would allow the employees to work hard for four days and then get a "real break" to recover, relax, and decompress.
Higher retention rates
Happier employees means higher retention rates, which means saving money; employee turnover is expensive—according to reports, every time the county loses an employee it costs somewhere between $15,000-$45,000 for rehiring from training (which is monitored by other employees), interviewing, which costs money; and advertising for jobs; new hires means a decrease in productivity while they learn.
More incentive to apply for county jobs.
Direct savings for the county
Decreased heat and light costs, and one less day of cleaning for maintenance crews.
Better coordination between offices
Certain operations can be held up because of conflicting schedules of other departments.
Reduced need for time off
Employees would have more time to conduct their personal business including doctor's appointments and other business that can be done on Fridays; trips to Denver could be made on Fridays.
Better Service for Customers
The four-day week would better serve citizens. Most people work a job from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and they must take time off work to drive to Hot Sulphur to conduct business. Opening early and closing later would allow a better chance to not have to take time off.
Change is difficult
Changes should be well thought out and communicated to citizens.
Employees would get home later
Other counties have put all extra time in the mornings so they can still leave between 4:30 and 6 p.m.
Longer hours for employees
Employees may become tired throughout the day; a possibility to compensate for the shortened workweek is shortening lunch hours—this provides better customer service throughout lunch hour.
Mondays would be very busy