A Chick-fil-A operator cooks up a winning recipe for employees: a three-day work week

New York
CNN Business

What staff shortage? A Miami Chick-fil-A owner/operator has been inundated with applications after shifting his staff to a three-day, 14-hour work week.

Justin Lindsey was looking for a new way to reward workers who “literally worked 70 hours a week, week after week,” he recently told QSR magazine.

The popular franchise was profitable and sales were strong, but this came at the expense of staff burnout. So, at the beginning of this year, Lindsey concocted a new recipe for success: the redesign of the weekly schedules.

He divided his staff of 38 – 18 store managers and 20 front-line workers – into two groups and alternated weekly schedules in three-day blocks of 1 to 2 p.m.

The result: 100% retention at the executive level and a flood of new candidates. An opening this fall at the Kendall neighborhood restaurant drew more than 420 applicants.

The restaurant is just another example of companies experimenting with non-traditional shifts since the pandemic upended the 40-hour work week.

Although the majority of companies have been reluctant to change, some companies, and even some bosses, have advocated flexibility as a way to attract and retain workers by offering them a better work-life balance.

In the case of her restaurant, Lindsey said the three-day work week allows her staff to plan ahead for their life outside of work.

“I think people want to work in this industry,” Lindsey said in the report. “But they want certain things to change, and I think that’s what it showed – is that there are things that if we change it for the better, we’re going to have a lasting impact.” Lindsey could not be reached for comment by CNN.

A three-day work week is still very rare, but the buzz around a four-day week is growing.

In a six-month pilot program in the UK, 3,300 workers from 70 companies agreed to work 80% of their usual weekly hours in return for a promise to maintain 100% productivity. Their pay was unchanged. At the end of this month, companies will decide whether or not to keep the program.

A similar test in Iceland passed. And when Microsoft tried a shorter workweek in Japan in 2019, it found productivity increased by almost 40%.