The 9/80 work schedule is an innovative scheme that maximizes employee productivity. Instead of tracking hours on a weekly basis—where employees work for five days a week—the 9/80 schedule operates over a two-week block, with employees working for nine days and having one day off.
Think of it as nine work days, spread over two weeks, with one day off in the second week.
To accomplish 80 hours of work, the employee will work eight nine-hour shifts and one eight-hour shift during the first week. Then, in the second week, the employee will work four nine-hour shifts and have Friday off. An alternative way of running this schedule is to have an employee work four nine-hour shifts, followed by a four-hour shift, and then repeat this schedule the following week. Although employees won’t receive a full day off in the two-week period, they’ll receive two half-days off every Friday.
Examining the 9/80 work schedule
To an outside observer, the 9/80 seems a lot more complicated than a simple five-day, 40-hour workweek. However, when you break it down into individual weeks, you can see a pattern develop. The first week involves a total of 44 hours:
|9 hours||9 hours||9 hours||9 hours||8 hours||44 hours|
However, the second workweek involves just 36 hours, which can be a real draw for employees:
|9 hours||9 hours||9 hours||9 hours||No work||36 hours|
Effectively, employees have three-day weekends twice a month using this schedule, and in months when there is a public holiday, workers may even receive a four-day weekend.
What are the benefits of this program for employees?
A major benefit of this program is that it provides employees with flexibility, allowing them to vary their work schedules. The Department of Labor even refers to work schedules that fit outside of the normal 9-5 work day as “flexible schedules.” Flexible work schedules are not a recent phenomenon nor a fad—in 1997, one-quarter of the American workforce had some form of a flexible schedule.
Decreased time spent in commute
No one enjoys sitting in traffic, waiting to get to work. As the 9/80 format allows an employee to take one day off in a two-week period, this cuts a whole day of commuting out of their schedule. In addition to this, when an employee works a nine-hour shift, they may experience less traffic on their commute home, as they miss rush-hour traffic.
Greater work/life balance
By knowing that there is a day off coming up, employees can plan out their months to make better use of their personal time. Employees may book important appointments on those days, like a checkup at a doctor’s office. They can also spend this time with family and friends or do an activity they love.
What are the benefits to employers?
Attracting talented employees
As an employer, you can pitch the 9/80 work schedule as an advantage of joining your company, alongside other benefits such as your medical plan, company culture, and professional development plans. This will indicate that you care about the well-being of your employees, as you have implemented an innovative, holistic approach to your work schedule. Outlining this schedule will also demonstrate that you are serious about providing workers with flexibility.
Some employers have argued that this schedule breaks the monotony of the regular 40-hour workweek, allowing their employees to establish healthier and more productive work rhythms. In the second workweek, in particular, you may see a boost in employee morale as workers anticipate the long weekend ahead. Employees may also be motivated to work harder, ensuring that they have completed tasks before their time off.
Equally, having an extra day off to recharge allows employees to come back to work more refreshed, and ready to contribute more to the company.
Drawbacks of this program
The major drawback of this schedule is that employees work an extra hour each day. As a result, employees may have less time to relax each day after the workday. In addition, some employees may run into a scheduling issue when working their extra hour, as they might need to pick up their children from daycare around this time or attend to other family commitments.
Equally, while larger businesses with multiple teams may be able to rotate the day on which certain employees/teams take off—meaning that the business is never closed—small businesses, particularly in manufacturing, may experience issues with production if they do not have multiple teams to rotate in this way. This issue can however be mitigated by using two four-hour workdays.
How to implement the 9/80 work schedule
First, conduct some market research by reaching out to companies within your network which use this work schedule. This can provide you with practical examples of how to properly implement this work schedule. Consider asking the following:
- Was it difficult to transition from a 40-hour work week to the 9/80 work schedule?
- What were its immediate benefits?
- What challenges did you face in the first year?
- Would you recommend it to other businesses?
Next, reach out to your employees to gauge how they feel about a possible 9/80 schedule. As you bring it to your employees, be sure to explain to them the expectations for the workload throughout each week. You may hear several opinions, but if there is a generally positive feeling about the program, you could run a trial of the schedule.
Organize your payroll for this change
As this is a more unusual time schedule, the accounting department may experience issues early on when adding up the hours. Since your employees will be working 44 hours in the first week rather than the standard 40, if added up incorrectly, it may appear that employees are entitled to receive four hours of overtime. To mitigate this issue, switch to a pay period of two weeks, particularly if you have been using weekly pay periods.
It is worth noting that in some states, such as California, overtime is calculated by the hours worked in a single day, and any time over 8 hours is considered overtime. This is protected by law, and so you may not be able to run this work schedule if you operate in certain states.
During the trial phase, you should seek feedback from your employees to understand whether they feel the new schedule is benefiting—or hindering—them. In addition, speak to the managers at your company to see if the employees have continued to meet key performance indicators. If you find the trial to be successful, you can implement the work schedule full-time, using the feedback you’ve obtained to refine processes for both managers and employees.
The 9/80 work schedule allows employees greater flexibility, contributing to morale and boosting loyalty. It can also be an effective way to jumpstart productivity, as employees returning from a three-day weekend may be more refreshed and ready to contribute in the workplace. If you choose to implement this program, ask for continuous feedback and monitor changes to productivity in order to ensure a successful transition.
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