The Four Day Work Week

moneysqueezeThe ultimate goal of any production facility is to achieve Maximum Production. One way to move in that direction is by employing a four day work week. There has been much talk about this concept recently as businesses try to squeeze out as much productivity as possible, without investing more cash into the proposition. I’ve made this change on multiple production floors over the years, and had great success in the process.

On the plus side…

Take a look at how long it takes to get things rolling, I mean really rolling, each morning on your production floor. And at the end of the day, observe at what point production begins to wind down. When you add these times together and multiply by five days, that number turns into quite a bit of non-productivity. Cut out one day of firing up in the morning and winding down in the afternoon, and you can cut that lost time by 20%. That’s substantial over a month, over a season, and over a year.

During crunch time, the thing your employees do not want to hear is, “I need you to work on Saturday… again.” Believe it or not, your employees do not want to spend every waking moment on the job. But if you’re on a four day work schedule, Monday through Thursday, overtime occurs on Friday, not over the weekend. Their kids are in school and their significant other is at work. Trust me, it’s a much easier sell to bring your full crew in on a Friday than to convince them all to work on Saturday.

On the minus side…

This approach works much better on the production floor than it does in other areas of your business. There may be some whining from your receptionist who wants to work four days a week too. Not such an easy translation, since people still come through the door on Friday to place orders, etc. And it’s the same in other departments. The 10 hour day works better in some scenarios than with others. Production is an area where it just makes sense.

When a production worker calls in sick, you lose them for 10 hours instead of eight, 25% of the work week instead of 20%. That can hurt if you’re running a very tight ship, as most of us do in times like these.

The sum of the difference…

For me, the pluses have always outweighed the minuses. I have on occasion, mostly to appease nervous owners, had to keep a couple of employees on the Friday shift to take care of last minute or rush work, but mostly to make the owners more comfortable dealing with such a great change in the status quo. And holidays can complicate things since we only want to pay for eight hours. I’ve either offered makeup hours on Friday, or spread the additional two hours through the rest of the work week. It all works out.

Is the four day work week the way to go for garment printing operations? My experience tells me the answer is a definite yes. Employees love the three day weekend. You get more production due to one less day of start up and wind down. And overtime is an easier proposition for all involved. This might just be the way to increase your output, which increases the bottom line, without a penny of additional cost.

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Terry Combs is a 30+ year veteran of the garment decorating industry, offering training and consulting through his website TerryCombs.com. Terry is also editor of the management and production newsletter Screen Print Weekly.

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