Utah this summer will become what experts say is the first state to institute a mandatory four-day work week for most state employees, joining local governments across the nation that are altering schedules to save money, energy, and resources.
Gov. Jon Huntsman, a first-term Republican, says he's making the change to reduce the state's carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, improve customer service and provide workers more flexibility.
"The reaction (from the public) has been very much a willingness to give this a go," he says.
The change will apply to about 17,000 employees, roughly 80% of the state workforce, Huntsman says. Public universities, the state court system, prisons and other critical services will be exempt. Residents still will have sufficient access to state offices, many staying open from 7 a.m.- 6 p.m., and more than 800 state services are available online, he says.
Leslie Scott, executive director of the National Association of State Personnel Directors, says Huntsman's action is a first. "Most states have a four-day work week option for their employees, but Utah is the first to go to a mandatory four-day work week," she says. "A good number of the states are encouraging their agencies and managers to offer a four-day work week whenever possible."
Facer expects more cities to begin shuttering offices on Fridays. "The increasing pressures the American is facing around gas prices is certainly a significant factor, and the overall fiscal pressures governments are facing in general," he says.
Jacqueline Byers, director of research at the National Association of Counties, says the four-day work week is gaining in popularity among county governments. Marion County, Fla., has a mandatory four-day work week for employees; Oconee County, S.C., and Walworth County, Wis., have it for road work crews, while Will County, Ill., has it for the auditor's office. Oakland County, Mich., is seeking volunteers for a four-day work week, and Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Suffolk County, N.Y., are moving toward it, she says.
Huntsman says the change will help Utah reach its goal of reducing energy use 20% by 2015.
Beyond the energy and financial implications, the four-day work week is a quality-of-life issue for many. Huntsman says it is especially popular among younger employees and that his action will make Utah more competitive in luring talent.
Facer agrees that an improved "work-life balance" often results from a shorter work week. "More and more young workers are entering the work force," Facer says. "They're looking for ways to enhance their work-life balance. Alternative work schedules offer more of this work-life balance than do traditional work schedules." [USA Today]
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Utah is looking better and better
Sure, it's intensely Mormon and you need to be "sponsored" to have a drink at a bar. Sure, it's landlocked and co-co-co-cold. Sure, the hubby and I escaped to Salt Lake City to get away from the San Diego fires last October........ BUT the Utah folk know what's good for their workers. The gov'nah is issuing a 4-day work week to offset the state's carbon footprint, to create less driving for people and less use of gas, and to provide more flexibility and free time for folks. Now that's an example we should all follow cause at $4.50+ it costs for a tank of gas, one day of not having to drive to work would make quite a difference for everyone. Plus I know how much more well-rested I feel after a 3-day weekend and having that extra day to schedule doctor appointments, run errands, and time to just get things done would be nice.