innovative employee retention strategies

Innovative Employee Retention Strategies Include 4 Day Work Week

By Published On: April 11, 2024


Competition for top tier talent continues to be an issue, especially in supply chain. Employers are striving for balance between attracting the best talent and using innovative employee retention strategies to fill out their org charts. Things like employee engagement are increased while employee turnover is reduced with these work-life balance and employee retention strategies.

Since the world was turned upside down in 2020 with a Pandemic, there has been a back and forth between employee and an employer driven work world. In 2020, the pendulum started out in favor of employees as fully remote workplaces evolved out of necessity but remained due to talent shortages. As the economy settled and became less volatile, employers started to gain back some influence, and workers began coming back into the office in a hybrid format and hiring slowed down some. 

As the second quarter of 2024 kicks off, we have record jobs numbers and a little higher than neutral economic growth. While growth forecasts are trimmed and predicted to slow, doesn’t mean that hiring will do so at a commensurate rate. Consumer demand is up and the need for more talent is also up. And now we have more employers working on retention practices like instituting a 4 day work week. What does this mean for the pendulum? Is it finally starting to settle?

4 Day Work Week Becomes a Reality

The 4 day work week has been bandied about for years by employers. As is typically the case, European companies were the first to implement this practice in 2022. In Belgium, workers can opt into the plan which pays them the same for 32 hours as it would for 40; same amount of work in less time.

Following Belgium’s lead, more than 300 companies in the United Kingdom also instituted this practice on a trial basis. Most of them have continued doing so. 

Germany has followed suit with a pilot program of 45 companies who began the practice in February of this year. This could be just the innovative employee retention strategy that employers are seeking during a time when competition for top talent is high.

Lower Work Stress Higher Productivity

As more companies begin to either adopt or consider this practice, studies reveal that productivity is higher while employee morale also increases. 

100% of managers that participated in a large study in the United Kingdom tracking the 4 day work week say that it had a positive impact on the organization. The study also revealed that work life balance significantly improved with 86% of employees saying they felt that they performed better at work. Job satisfaction, meanwhile, increased for 96% of those polled. 

Higher productivity, higher employee morale, and more satisfaction with work life balance all lead one to think that higher retention rates will follow. As a supply chain firm, we know all too well the struggles to hire and retain top supply chain talent.

Increase Professional Development and Employee Engagement

Implementing a four-day workweek could potentially enhance employee engagement by providing a better work-life balance, reducing burnout, and boosting morale. With an extra day off each week, employees have more time to rest, recharge, and pursue personal interests, leading to increased satisfaction and commitment to their jobs. Additionally, a compressed workweek may encourage greater focus and productivity during the four days at work, as employees strive to accomplish tasks within a shorter timeframe. However, the success of a four-day workweek in improving employee engagement depends on various factors such as workload distribution, flexible scheduling options, and effective communication between management and staff. Companies need to carefully assess their unique circumstances and employee preferences before implementing such a policy to ensure its effectiveness in enhancing engagement.

Workers Live Further From Office

Barry Diller of CNBC predicts that America could adopt a 4 day work week model that would require workers to be in the office 4 days a week. While this might be the most palatable of options for American employers, it presents a lot of challenges including reduced workplace proximity.

According to recent studies, workers have moved an average of 20 plus miles away from their offices. The pandemic inspired a worker migration to pursue remote employment options. Technological advances provided opportunities for employees to seek more desired living locations further away from business centers or even in totally different cities.

Hybrid and flexible workplace arrangements seem to offer the best of both worlds for American employers. While fully remote positions are available, even in supply chain, hybrid arrangements seem to be winning out. In the field of logistics, employers are having to get more and more creative to retain and grow their supply chain workforces. Gig workers, better onboarding, and internal promotions are going a long way toward helping close the supply chain talent shortage. But concessions will definitely need to be made to keep them and that could mean a 4 day work week.

The Future of Supply Chain Talent Management

Fridays Have Fallen Off

It’s no mystery or surprise that Friday’s in the corporate world tend to be the least productive day of the week. Workers are typically spent by the time Friday comes around and are anxious to get their weekends started. Data even suggests that digital activity drops significantly earlier on Fridays vs. the rest of the work week.

Hybrid work schedules in a post Pandemic world have brought some workers back into offices. Tuesday through Thursday seem to be the most attended office days of the week. This has helped juice camaraderie and team building as office dynamics start to normalize some.

However, the emphasis on work life balance and employers’ desire to practice more innovative employee retention strategies keeps Mondays and Fridays in flux. Traffic patterns are even easing on Fridays -with congestion being shown as only half of what it was in 2019. 

Finally, data suggests this is one of the most effective and innovative employee retention strategies. Employers report less churn with only a mandated half day off on Fridays. Imagine what a full day off could do for employee retention.

4 Day Work Week & Supply Chain Talent

Let’s face it: there are just positions that will never be able to be done remotely or 4 days a week. Front line operational supply chain talent rarely have the opportunity to work fully remote positions. While technology and robotics have allowed for more automation, the supply chain is still people and requires lots of monitoring. 

Just as operational staff need to be onsite, the C-Suite level positions will continue to enjoy more fully remote opportunities. These options have also trickled down to director and above positions due to supply chain talent shortages. Employers are able to draw on deeper talent pools by being geographically broader in their searches. This allows specialized recruiters to max out their networks when sourcing for hard to fill positions. The 4 day work week could add an additional layer of competitive advantage to the mix, however. 

Supply chain management plays a pivotal role in enhancing productivity across various industries by streamlining processes, optimizing resources, and improving overall efficiency. Employee turnover could also be reduced by engaging in these retention strategies. 

  1. Efficient Resource Utilization: Effective supply chain management ensures that resources such as raw materials, labor, and equipment are utilized optimally. By minimizing waste and reducing idle time, productivity is maximized throughout the entire production and distribution process.
  2. Inventory Optimization: Proper inventory management is essential for maintaining the right balance between supply and demand. By implementing inventory optimization techniques like just-in-time inventory or demand forecasting, supply chain managers can prevent overstocking or stockouts, thereby increasing productivity by reducing excess inventory costs and improving order fulfillment rates.
  3. Streamlined Processes: Supply chain management involves the continuous evaluation and improvement of processes to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks. By implementing lean principles or adopting technology-driven solutions such as automation and robotics, organizations can streamline operations, reduce cycle times, and enhance productivity.
  4. Enhanced Collaboration: Collaboration among supply chain partners, including suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors, fosters greater transparency and communication. By sharing information and coordinating activities, organizations can reduce lead times, minimize errors, and improve overall productivity.
  5. Improved Customer Satisfaction: A well-managed supply chain contributes to higher levels of customer satisfaction by ensuring timely delivery, product quality, and consistency. By meeting or exceeding customer expectations, organizations can enhance their reputation, increase customer loyalty, and drive repeat business.
  6. Cost Reduction: Supply chain management initiatives often lead to cost savings through efficiencies gained in procurement, production, and distribution processes. By reducing costs associated with inventory holding, transportation, and warehousing, organizations can improve their bottom line while simultaneously boosting productivity.

Supply chain talent offers its very own unique set of challenges to the talent shortage problem.

Why Not 4 Day Work Week in Supply Chain

Implementing a four-day workweek in supply chain operations poses several challenges that can adversely affect efficiency, productivity, and responsiveness to customer demands. Here’s why:

  1. Disrupted Workflow: Supply chain operations typically involve coordination across various stages, from procurement to distribution. Reducing workdays may disrupt this flow, leading to bottlenecks and delays in the movement of goods.
  2. Reduced Availability: With fewer workdays, there’s less time available for tasks like order processing, inventory management, and transportation scheduling. This limitation can hinder the timely delivery of products and increase lead times.
  3. Impact on Demand Variability: Supply chains often need to adapt quickly to fluctuations in demand. A shorter workweek may limit the ability to adjust production and distribution schedules in response to sudden changes, leading to inventory imbalances or stockouts.
  4. Communication Challenges: Effective communication is vital in supply chain management, involving coordination among suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. A condensed workweek could result in less overlap in working hours, making it harder to address issues promptly and collaborate effectively.
  5. Increased Costs: While reducing workdays might seem like a cost-saving measure, it can lead to increased overtime expenses as employees work longer hours to compensate for the shorter week. Moreover, any disruptions or delays in the supply chain can incur additional costs, such as expedited shipping fees or penalties for missed deadlines.
  6. Customer Satisfaction: Ultimately, supply chain performance impacts customer satisfaction. Delays in product delivery or inconsistencies in availability can erode trust and loyalty. A four-day workweek could compromise the ability to meet customer expectations for timely and reliable service.

While the idea of a four-day workweek may offer benefits in certain contexts, it presents significant challenges in supply chain management, where operational continuity and responsiveness are paramount.


The 4 day work week will do wonders for retention and help companies compete for critical talent. All things being equal the Director of Procurement hire may opt for the organization that offers more perks like a 4 day work week and other work life balance and culture benefits. The employee may also stay longer as employers tactically apply innovative retention strategies like a 4-4.5 day work week. Remote work expert Nick Bloom suggests that the nuanced data behind more of a work life balance only favors the employer. That increased retention and loyalty saves employers money. Data also shows that workers use fewer sick days for things like doctor’s appointments or other chores because they can schedule them during the business week. 

No one knows how the employer/employee driven workplace pendulum will swing or on whose side it will most favor. But we can safely assume that the evolution towards more work life balance will continue to grow. All of the available data suggests that 4 day work weeks benefit both employer and employees. Employee turnover is a real thing and supply chain firms continue to struggle with employee retention and hiring. How long before this becomes more of a reality in America?

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Connect with our supply chain recruiters here at SCM Talent Group to elevate your team’s potential and secure the supply chain leadership talent your organization needs for future success!