Will the Heat Treat Industry Embrace a 4 Day Work Week?

The Monty Heat Treat News has worked closely with International Search Partners (a US search firm known for being the only recruiting firm in the world working exclusively in heat treating), for over 20 years. That relationship has blossomed into a regularly featured article, “Ask the Heat Treat Recruiter,” where ISP’s seasoned team answers questions about salaries, interviewing, negotiations, and a host of other topics related to recruiting and job searching for companies and/or individual employees.

Every quarter in 2024, Managing Recruiter, Josh Hale and Sr. Recruiter, Jessica Maier, will address questions that come up regularly from industry professionals (email questions for future editions to [email protected]). Today’s question stems from a debate between commercial heat treat GMs about the benefits and feasibility of a 4-day workweek:

What are the pluses and minuses of a 4-day workweek or other alternative schedule such as work-from-home, hybrid models, or other variations?

The traditional 5-day workweek has come under recent scrutiny with many companies beginning to explore the potential benefits of different models, including the surging popularity of 4-day work weeks or so-called 9/80s with one extra day off every two weeks. Of course, COVID-19 also forced many workers to a work-from-home (or “WFH” for short) model, which some companies, and many employees, have taken a liking to and continued beyond the pandemic.

Many of those who have made the switch will swear by it, pointing to studies and empirical evidence showing increased employee happiness, productivity, and engagement along with reduced employee stress, burnout, and absenteeism. Additionally, alternative schedules are typically seen as a perk and can be used as recruiting and retention too. A final added benefit for companies considering making this transition is reduced costs in the form of savings on utilities, office space, and some minor things that still add up like snacks and coffee.

On the other hand, it takes some planning and coordination to make the shift and, while most studies support an overall productivity boost, there can be a slight dip in the short-term during the transition. It may also require upfront investment in technology and tools that can negate some of the cost savings previously mentioned. Most importantly, it is critical to remember that the 4-day workweek (or WFH or other flexible schedules) doesn’t necessarily function well for all positions or industries. Customer facing roles come to mind as something that might require a more traditional approach, as does businesses requiring 24/7 operations or tight turnaround schedules (*cough* “heat treating” *cough*).

While many companies have successfully made the transition and overcome some of these hurdles (yes, including commercial heat treats), the success or failure of this change ultimately depends on management and their foresight to address any prospective problems that may arise. Factors to consider when deciding on implementing such a program include industry, workplace culture, employee engagement, and resources available.

Remember, moving to a 4-day workweek is a significant change. Careful evaluation of company needs, employee feedback, and meticulous planning are key to reaping any potential reward while minimizing disruptions. When feasible, however, it can help boost morale and improve employee satisfaction and retention, while also acting as a strong lure when recruiting new workers.

Josh Hale has collaborated with companies to identify, engage, and hire top performers as a professional “headhunter” where he’s focused exclusively on the heat treat industry as part of International Search Partners since acquiring the firm in 2015. He works closely with Jessica Maier to support the practice, and, together, they’ve helped dozens of companies and hundreds of candidates find the match within the industry, including roles for engineering, sales, quality, metallurgy, management, and more. For additional information email [email protected] or call 619-465-9621.