ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Fast-casual restaurant chain Dig is testing a four-day workweek with its full-time staff, according to Fast Company. Employees can choose to work 10-hour shifts four times a week.
Four-day workweeks are typically seen in office settings, but in an industry where scheduling can be unpredictable, the four-day workweek is a welcome benefit to most of those who participate in the pilot at Dig. In an internal survey of 45 workers, 87% said they would recommend the new schedule. Employees say they have better work-life balance and have more time for school and errands, and some said that it has had positive impact on their mental health.
“I’ve worked for over 15 years, and this is the first place I’ve worked where I have three set days out of every single week,” Diante Scott, a sous chef at Dig, told Fast Company.
Because the restaurant is open seven days a week, many employees work three days, have one to two days off, and then work a fourth day. Unlike office workers who might end up checking email on their days off, when restaurant workers are off, they can take a true break from their jobs, writes Fast Company.
Flexible scheduling is a highly desired benefit and can give employers a competitive edge in a tight labor market. Target offers flexible scheduling via a mobile scheduling app that allows employees to swap shifts with other workers. Gen Z in particular wants flexible scheduling.
“We’re hoping to see through the data, as we start to collect more of it, how it will impact people who are caregivers for children or elders,” Melinda Sharretts, vice president of people and culture at Dig, told Fast Company. “Our hypothesis is that it will have a positive impact on those things. But we don’t want to be presumptuous about it.”
Sharretts says that child-care is a major challenge for workers in the restaurant industry, and if the new schedule can help alleviate that, it may convince other restaurants to start offering the same benefit.
Workers in many industries struggle to balance child-care.
Kwik Trip, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, plans to build a child-care center for its employees in La Crosse.
“We’ve got an opportunity to try to do some things to try and improve daycare opportunities for our coworkers,” Bryan Novy, senior project manager, Kwik Trip, said at a city committee meeting earlier this month, reports the Winona Daily News. “It’s obviously something that’s a challenge for a lot of different people right now, and so this is something that we think will really help our coworkers, which in-turn should help the community as well in taking care of some of those daycare challenges that everybody’s experiencing right now.”
In December, Tyson Foods announced it plans to build an on-site child-care and learning facility at its new Humboldt, Tennessee, poultry processing plant, and recently announced a program at its Amarillo, Texas, beef plant, to work with two local providers to provide free child care for second-shift workers.
According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Benefits 2019 survey, only 4% of companies offer a subsidized child-care center or program, while another 4% offer a nonsubsidized child-care center on-site or nearby.
Sheetz offers an on-site child-care facility called Little Sproutz Early Learning Center at its operations support center in Claysburg, Pennsylvania, just south of its Altoona headquarters. The center is open to the children—and grandchildren—of the more than a thousand support workers at the Claysburg site. Casey’s also provides on-site child care through its Child Development Center at its headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa.
Learn more about how some retailers are helping employees find affordable, reliable child care in the NACS Magazine article “The Child-Care Crunch.”