Asda to adopt four-day week amid worker revolts

In a bid to improve employee satisfaction, the Big Four supermarket will hop on board the four-day week trend.

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Helena Young

Asda has announced it will trial a four-day working week for some employees later this year in a bid to quell growing manager dissatisfaction.

The supermarket chain has faced growing dissent from employees, as rounds of cost-cutting has led to waves of resignations and planned strike action.

Recognising how the four-day week can boost workforce morale, Asda’s efforts appear to be a last-ditch effort to retain talent amid heightened staff turnover.

Managers plan walkout

Asda has experienced persistent staff turmoil since it was purchased by the billionaire Issa brothers in 2020. Manager complaints about poor working conditions have even led to walkouts.

Strike action was scheduled to take place at Asda Gosport, the firm’s Portsmouth superstore, from Monday 15 to Thursday 18 January.

However GMB, the union for Asda workers, confirmed last week that the action would be pushed back to this coming Friday 19 January following talks with the employer.

Nicola Nixon, GMB Regional Organiser said: “We are being very clear though that if sufficient progress hasn’t taken place in the meantime and Asda haven’t used this week wisely, our members will be out on strike beginning next Friday.

“Our members are bang up for this struggle. We will only delay this strike for so long.”

‘Toxic’ work culture

Much of the criticism is being levelled at Asda’s £2.1 billion dividends, which it awarded to shareholders in 2023, despite the rising cost of living contributing to an annual profit loss.

Union members have also complained about ill treatment at the hands of management. They describe wage errors which have apparently led to a ‘toxic’ work culture.

Asda has responded to the accusations from senior staff members by introducing a variety of flexible work options including a four-day week.

In a presentation given to employees in December, the company said they were making a “case for change” to stop talented store managers leaving their jobs, reports The Sunday Telegraph.

Four-day week: the new workplace detox?

In light of rising inflation, tensions have soared at UK workplaces. Big-name employers such as Transport for London (TfL) and Amazon have also faced strike action as workers campaign for higher wages to compensate for more expensive living costs.

Employee benefits such as the four-day week, where staff work reduced hours but receive the same wage, have become a crutch for employers seeking to placate team members in pay disputes.

Last year, an employee survey conducted by Startups found that 61% of those in favour of a four-day working week think it would ensure a better work-life balance.

Studies also suggest that shorter workweeks can actually lead to productivity gains, making it a profitable policy for businesses.

The trend isn’t fading this year, as a recent Startups survey found that 12% of UK businesses plan to adopt a four-day working week in 2024.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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