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Audit shows Utah's 4-day workweek savings overstated



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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's been two years since the launch of the Working 4 Utah Initiative, which shortened the workweek to four 10-hour days for state employees. A legislative audit released Tuesday says cost savings are minimal, and there's no evidence that state workers are more productive.


It's been suggested that millions were to be saved in overtime, travel expense and utility cost; but we found those claims were overstated.

–James Behunin, audit supervisor


#beh_quote

This legislative audit is inconclusive on productivity and underwhelming on cost savings. Auditors say costs declined since the state changed to a four-day workweek, but not entirely because of the new schedule. The report credits a drop in energy prices for the savings.

"[It's] not nearly the amount that was hoped for," said audit supervisor James Behunin. "It's been suggested that millions were to be saved in overtime, travel expense and utility cost, but we found those claims were overstated."

The Working 4 Utah Initiative was expected to save $3 million in utility costs; the actual savings was just over $500,000.

Survey: The four-day workweek's effect on employee productivity [Click to enlarge]
Survey: The four-day workweek's effect on employee productivity [Click to enlarge]

When it comes to employee productivity, the audit finds the results are unclear because few agencies have data on how the new schedule has impacted performance.

Online surveys to employees found the majority of them, 82 percent, are equally or more productive since changing to four 10s. In fact, some agencies even reported to the state that their line of work doesn't fit within the four-10s schedule.

"There are some agencies that are less productive because of the new schedule. The problem is the schedule doesn't align well with the needs of some of their main client groups," Behunin said.

The audit also raises concerns about questionable practices, like workers who didn't take a lunch break or gym time and left early instead.

In all, the audit found state workers mostly favor the new schedule. The subcommittee suggests agencies find a better way to measure productivity; and once that happens, agencies could have the choice to modify the work week to fit their needs.

E-mail: aforester@ksl.com

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Anne Forester

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