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How to get a four-day work week

A four-day work week could be the key to balancing your professional and personal lives. The tricky part is getting your boss to agree.

Before asking to cut back your work hours, you had better be sure it’s what you want. “In order to be convincing, you have to be convinced,” states Marie Claude Lamarche, a psychologist who specializes in mental health in the workplace. The following steps can help you get the ball rolling:

Before the meeting

1. Calculate how much less you will make

On the one hand, your salary will drop by 20%. On the other hand, you may be eligible for more government benefits (GST and PST credits, family allowance, etc.). For a more complete picture, get help from an accountant.

2. Identify the sacrifices you are willing to make

Having a lower salary might mean giving up your annual winter getaway. But people who work four days a week tend to adapt to this kind of change, especially if they spend their free time doing something they enjoy, like playing with their children. “The sacrifices we accept depend on our values,” says Mrs. Lamarche.

3. Think of some alternatives for the company

Your boss doesn’t want to see productivity go down. Think of some tactics to make up for your day off. A part-time employee might want to take on an extra day of work, for example.

4. Put your proposal down in writing

This will give your boss something to show their superior.

5. Set up a meeting with your boss

Let them decide the best time to meet.

During the meeting

1. Stay positive

“Don’t focus on why a four-day work week would be good for you,” advises Mrs. Lamarche. “Your boss is interested in the company, not your personal life. Let them know that you’ll be more productive if you are well-rested.”

2. Show that you are sensitive to the company’s needs

“For example, if you work for an accounting firm, tell them you are willing to work five days a week during tax season.”

3. Suggest a trial period

By making this suggestion, they’ll think you’ve got the company’s best interest in mind. Plus, your boss will feel better knowing that their decision won’t be carved in stone.

4. Get turned down? Check in with your reaction

“If you are really disappointed, it probably means this request was important to you,” Mrs. Lamarche points out. If that is the case, it might be time to look for a job better-suited to your needs.