For the vast majority of the American workforce, the idea of a four-day work week seems highly improbable at best, and probably lands somewhere between “that’ll never actually happen” and “LOL.” However, in a domestic job market reporting record unemployment lows (3.8 percent as of February), employers now have an increased incentive to consider things like time obligations, pay rates, and treating their laborers like actual human beings in their future business strategies.
To that effect, fast-casual luminaries Shake Shack appear to be considering this radical (at least by U.S. standards) shift. During an investor conference earlier this week, Bloomberg reported, CEO Randy Garutti announced select Las Vegas locations are already testing out a four-day week as part of a recruitment model designed to entice workers to not only join the company, but to stick around as well. Garutti remarked on the idea of a four-day workweek:
Nobody’s really been able to figure that out in the restaurant business... If we can figure that out on scale, it could be a big opportunity. We’re not promising it yet, but it’s something we’re having fun trying, and seeing how our leaders like it on a recruiting basis and ongoing retention basis.
Garutti is vague on details, but it did inspire questions among the The Takeout staff:
- Will this four-day week reflect changes in hourly pay, given that compensation tends to be at the center of these conversations?
- What are the parameters of the four-day week? Are the hours reduced, or do they remain equivalent and spread over fewer days?
- Will this mean that their portions of cheese fries will finally get more generous?
Within the quick-service chain world, Shake Shack is on the vanguard of employee wages and benefits. Employees are eligible for medical, dental, and vision insurance after their 90th day of employment, and can take part in a 401(K) matching program. The chain, founded by renowned New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer in 2004, also claims to pay above minimum wage in every state it operates.
Since the idea still appears to be well within the “testing phase,” it’s hard to say yet whether Shake Shack’s gambit will work, let alone whether it’ll have the broader cultural impact for which many will be hoping. If nothing else, it’s a bold step in the direction of taking care of workers, and that’s always a good thing.