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Thank goodness it’s Thursday.

According to a new Brigham Young University study, city employees who work four 10-hour days a week experience lower levels of at-home conflict, which they report translates to higher job satisfaction and productivity.

The paper, authored by Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth of BYU’s Romney Institute of Public Management, appears in this month’s issue of Review of Public Personnel Administration.

The research was conducted among Spanish Fork City employees, many of whom work the alternative 4/10 schedule, rather than the traditional five eight-hour days. Salt Lake, West Valley, Provo, West Jordan and Draper are among other Utah cities which offer similar programs.

According to Facer, Utah cities embraced the new schedule to both save money on utilities and also to give citizens a wider range of times to access city hall.

BYU researchers found that even though 4/10 employees work the same number of hours per week as their traditional work-week counterparts, they reported being more satisfied with their jobs, compensation, and benefits, and were less likely to look for employment elsewhere in the next year.

Among the most significant findings was the 4/10 schedule’s connection to conflicts between work and home. The 4/10 employees were less likely to report that they come home too tired, that work takes away from personal interest, and that work takes time they would like to spend with family. Other studies have linked work-home conflict with low job performance and lessened productivity.

“The challenges of balancing work and home lives have become much more complex,” Facer said. “Finding ways to better manage work-family conflict is important in building stronger organizations and satisfied employee bases.”

Other findings in the study show:

  • More than 60 percent of 4/10 employees reported higher productivity as a result of the 4/10 schedule.
  • More than 60 percent of employees reported agreement that citizen access has improved as a result of the 4/10 schedule.

In 2004, Spanish Fork joined the ranks of other Utah cities that offer alternative scheduling to their employees. Unpublished findings from the researchers indicate that citizens are split evenly among support, neutrality and opposition to the 4/10 schedule. The program has continued to evolve since its inception, in an effort to balance the complex and sometimes competing expectations of citizens. Within the last year, the city has reinstated Friday hours for some services.

Nine of Utah’s 15 largest cities offer some form of alternative work schedules to their employees, a trend that is increasingly prevalent across the county. Of these cities, the 4/10 schedule is the most common program followed by a schedule that offers every other Friday off with employees making up hours in between.

Facer adds that while the research shows some of the positive effects of alternative schedules, each city needs to evaluate its citizens, workforce and services carefully before and after adoption.

“Policies may need to be adapted to meet local needs,” he said. “Each city has to adapt to balance the very positive feelings the employees have about alternative schedules with the needs of the members of the community.”

To aid in this process, Facer and Wadsworth are currently conducting a nation-wide study involving about 150 municipal human resources directors aimed at learning more about alternative work schedules and their effects in communities.

Writer: Chris Giovarelli