LOWELL, Mass. ,

According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight countries conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, nearly half (45 percent) of full-time workers say it should take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted, while three out of four employees (72 percent) would work four days or less per week if pay remained constant. Yet, 71 percent of employees also say work interferes with their personal life.

In honor of Labor Day, The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace are launching a series examining how employees across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. view their relationship with work. Part one, “The Case for a 4-Day Workweek?” explores how employees spend their time on the clock and if the standard 40-hour workweek is most effective.

News Facts

  • The 40-hour conundrum: Workers say they have enough time, yet many still work OT.
    • Even though 75 percent of full-time employees globally say they have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks, nearly two in five (37 percent) work more than 40 hours each week and 71 percent claim work interferes with their personal lives.
    • Full-time employees in Australia (37 percent) and the U.K. (34 percent) feel strongest that they do not have enough time in the day to get the job done, yet they do not work the most hours. The U.S. leads the way with overtime, as 49 percent clock more than 40 hours each week, followed by India (44 percent), Mexico (40 percent), and Germany (38 percent).
    • If given more time in the workday, one in four workers (28 percent of individual contributors1; 24 percent of people managers) would simply catch up on their work.
  • The case for a four-day workweek? Three-quarters of workers crave a longer weekend.
    • If pay remained constant, one-third of global workers say their ideal workweek would last four days (34 percent), while 20 percent said they would work three days a week. One in four global employees (28 percent) are content with the standard five-day workweek.
    • Full-time workers in Canada (59 percent), Australia (47 percent), and the U.S. (40 percent) feel strongest about having a four-day workweek, while U.K. employees desire a three-day workweek the most (26 percent).
    • India leads the way as the hardest-working country, with a whopping 69 percent of full-time employees saying they would still work five days a week even if they had the option to work fewer days for the same pay. Mexico was the second-highest at 43 percent of workers, followed by the U.S. at 27 percent. The U.K. (16 percent), France (17 percent), and Australia (19 percent) are the least content with the standard five-day workweek.
    • One-third of employees (35 percent) would take a 20 percent pay-cut to work one day less per week. However, those numbers vary greatly by country, as 50 percent of workers in Mexico, 43 percent in India, and 42 percent in France would take that arrangement compared with only 29 percent in Canada and 24 percent in the U.S.
  • Time (well) spent: Unrelated tasks, administrative work impact efficiency.
    • Nearly nine in 10 employees (86 percent) say they lose time each day on work-specific tasks unrelated to their core job, with 41 percent of full-time employees wasting more than an hour a day on these extraneous activities. Additionally, 40 percent of employees say they lose an hour-plus each day on administrative tasks that do not drive value for their organization.
    • When asked what they spend the majority of their workday doing, individual contributors (56 percent) and people managers (28 percent) both listed servicing customers/patients/students as their top task.
    • The next highest-rated daily tasks for individual contributors include collaborating with co-workers (42 percent), administrative work (35 percent), manual labor (33 percent), and responding to emails (31 percent), while people managers list attending meetings (27 percent), administrative work (27 percent), collaborating with co-workers (26 percent), and responding to emails (26 percent) as the top ways they spend their workday.
  • What’s the biggest time-waster at work? Depends on who you ask.
    • “Fixing a problem not caused by me” (22 percent) and administrative work (17 percent) were the top two answers given by full-time employees when asked what they waste the most time on at work each day. Meetings (12 percent), email (11 percent), and customer issues (11 percent) round out the top five time-wasters.
    • Baby Boomers2 apparently waste the most time fixing problems caused by someone else (26 percent). Gen Z was least-likely to clean up after others (18 percent), yet they are most-likely to waste time on handling workplace conflict (9 percent).
    • Millennials blame social media the most as a time-sucker (10 percent), and they agree with Gen X as the most-likely to say meetings (13 percent) are a waste of time. Gen Z is twice as likely than Baby Boomers to say talking on the phone is a time-waster (10 percent).
    • Country-by-country, Mexico wastes the most time by far on administrative work (31 percent) followed by Canada (19 percent). The U.S. (29 percent), U.K. (28 percent), and Australia reportedly waste the most time cleaning up after others. France is far more likely than other countries to dislike email (24 percent), with Germany the second-highest at 16 percent.
    • Part-time employees say they “waste” more time fixing problems caused by others (26 percent) and handling customer issues (16 percent) compared with their full-time counterparts. Conversely, full-time workers are twice as likely to waste time in meetings (12 percent).
  • Too much wasted time or too much pressure: What causes excess work and burnout?
    • More than half of all employees worldwide (53 percent) feel pressure to work longer hours or pick up extra shifts to grow their career – yet oftentimes that pressure comes from within. Of those who feel pressure to work longer, 60 percent put pressure on themselves while the rest say that pressure comes solely from their managers.
    • Workers in France (66 percent) and India (62 percent) feel by far the most pressure to work longer hours, while employees in Canada (38 percent), the U.S. (44 percent), and Australia (47 percent) feel the least amount of pressure.
    • Gen Z feels by far the most pressure to grow their careers (67 percent) – which is twice as more as their Baby Boomer colleagues (33 percent), who feel the least pressured.
    • Even though 71 percent of workers accomplish what they want to at work every day or almost every day, three in four employees (79 percent) suffer from at least some burnout at work.
    • Unreasonable workload (26 percent) was the top reason cited for burnout, followed by “not enough time in the day to get job done” (25 percent); lack of skilled co-workers (24 percent); a negative workplace culture / toxic team (24 percent); and unfair compensation (21 percent).

Supporting Quotes

  • Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos
    “The biggest takeaway of this research isn’t that we should move to a shorter workweek or that we need a time machine to get all our work done. It’s clear that employees want to work and do well by their employers, and many roles require people to be present or on call during specific hours to get the job done – such as teachers, nurses, retail associates, plant workers, delivery drivers, and nearly all customer-facing roles. Organizations must help their people eliminate distractions, inefficiencies, and administrative work to enable them to work at full capacity. This will create more time to innovate, collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and serve customers while opening the door to creative scheduling options, including the coveted four-day workweek.”
  • Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace
    “Employees are working harder than ever and at the cost of their personal lives. This study confirms that we can all be more efficient with our workday, that there’s an opportunity to remove administrative tasks in exchange for more impactful ones, and that the traditional workweek isn’t as relevant in today’s business world. Employees need more flexibility with how, when, and where they work, and leaders should be supportive of an employee’s professional and personal life. When employees get time to rest, they become more productive, creative, and are healthier, meaning they take fewer sick days.”

Supporting Resources

  • Note to editors: Please refer to this research as the “The Case for a 4-Day Workweek?” survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace.
  • See more research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, including the recent “Working Your Way” study, which found that organizations often undermine their own employee experience around work-life harmony when it comes to time off, productivity, and workload.
  • Read a complimentary copy of Garter’s full report, “Prepare Yourself for the Future of Workforce Management.”
  • Subscribe to follow The Workforce Institute at Kronos for insight, research, blogs, and podcasts on how organizations can manage today’s modern workforce to drive engagement and performance.
  • Connect with Kronos via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

About The Workforce Institute at Kronos

The Workforce Institute at Kronos provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute at Kronos is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.


About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000® — and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Visit www.kronos.com. Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

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Survey Methodology

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