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Why one tech startup is going all in on the 4-day workweek

It’s a tight labor market, but Jennifer Christie has been seeing an uptick in résumés lately. There seems to be a clear reason why. The chief people officer at one-click checkout tech company Bolt helped institute a new policy for employees as of Jan. 4: a four-day workweek.

“Things like a four-day workweek are bolder steps than hybrid,” she told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview. “We do believe we need to take bigger steps to make sure people are more productive and efficient, but also make sure that we are avoiding the burnout we keep hearing so much about.”

Bolt ran a pilot program for the shortened week last fall. When the company surveyed employees afterwards, 94% of professionals and 91% of managers said they wanted the program to continue. Eighty-six percent said they were more efficient with their time.

“We’re not looking at it like we have to cram five days into four,” Christie said. “In those four days we’re going to accomplish just as much, and we’re going to work just as hard, but be more effective in terms of how we use meetings, more effective about our time.” That could mean, for example, figuring out whether a meeting could be replaced by an email or Slack message.

Happy woman sitting on sofa and working on laptop computer. Smiling female working at home.
One-click checkout tech company Bolt has implemented a four-day workweek. Credit: Getty (Luis Alvarez via Getty Images)

Incidentally, the idea of increased efficiency isn’t a euphemism for cutting salaries; Bolt workers’ paychecks won’t shrink along with their workweeks. (Bolt raised almost $400 million in new funding last year, and reportedly is seeking another round that could lift its total valuation to almost $14 billion).

In this tight labor market, companies are getting more creative to attract and retain employees. A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. One of the changes that employees have been demanding – and one reason they’ve been migrating jobs — is the option of working from home or office, a so-called hybrid model.

Globally, the four-day workweek has also been taking hold. Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, for example, recently introduced an optional four-day workweek.

Christie is hoping the shift won't be limited to just a handful of companies, and said she's gotten calls from other chief people officers in addition to prospective employees.

"We're looking to transform corporate culture," she said.

Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9am-11am ET. Follow her on Twitter @juleshyman, and read her other stories.

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