This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Attention, cities: Want more productive workers who will stick around longer? The solution might be as simple as a scheduling change.
A new study, conducted by a pair of Brigham Young University professors, concludes that city employees who work four 10-hour days each week say they are more satisfied with their jobs, compensation and benefits than their colleagues who work traditional schedules.
The study, published in this month's Review of Public Personnel Administration, also shows workers on the four-day shift are less likely to look elsewhere for employment.
And they generally report higher productivity because of lower levels of conflict at home.
Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth asked 132 Spanish Fork full- and part-time employees to weigh in on the effects of alternative workweeks, which are offered in some form by nine of Utah's 15 largest cities.
"It's becoming a much bigger potential benefit for employees," said Wadsworth. Cities might be better equipped to deal with different schedules, she said, than the private sector because they already deal with varying fire and police hours.
But Facer warned the alternative schedule can still be a logistical nightmare. He stressed that cities should not rush to change scheduling policies.
"I don't want cities to look at this and automatically go to a four-ten. But they should think: 'What allows us to provide the best services to the citizens, and what will make our employees more productive?' "
Wadsworth said a four-day week can still serve residents, even if the city closes or has lower staffing levels on Fridays or Mondays. Because city offices are open longer, residents can stop by on the way to or from home or work.
Some cities, such as Spanish Fork, open offices longer and keep them open five days a week, giving residents both options. And it saves participating workers one-fifth of their weekly gasoline bill in what is becoming a high-price-fuel market.
A recent survey of Spanish Fork city employees showed:
* 60 percent of employees who switched to a four-day, 10-hour workday reported higher productivity.
* 64 percent of all employees said citizen access has improved as a result.
* 12 percent of workers experienced inefficiencies because of other co-workers not being available on Fridays.
* Citizens are split evenly among support, neutrality and opposition to the four-ten schedule.
In addition, workers reported that:
* They were more satisfied with their jobs than non-four-ten employees.
* They were less inclined to look for another job.
* They were more satisfied with pay and benefits.
* They were more happy working for the city.
* They were less likely to come home too tired.
* Work does not detract as much from their personal interests or family and friend time.
Some area cities that offer alternative work weeks:
* Salt Lake City
* West Valley City
* Spanish Fork
* West Jordan
* Eagle Mountain