Can the 4-day work week succeed in funeral service



If you own, operate, or manage a Death Care business you have massaged your business through the pandemic, supply chain breakdowns, inflated related cost issues, and more in the past two to three years.  Are you ready for what many people are advocating in the near future — the “4-Day Work Week”?


There is a lot of talk in the mainstream media about it. . . . four days to work, four days of school. . . and a 3-day weekend.  New Zealand based 4 Day Week Global has been conducting surveys and pilots around the world on the concept.  With their concept, “workers agree to use a “100-80-100” model, which means they receive 100% of their pay for 80% of the time, but commit to 100% of the output”.


One of their largest pilot programs, a six-month study just concluded in December 2022 in Great Britain.  As you can imagine, the employees loved it by indicating that  “90% said they definitely wanted to continue and 15% claiming no amount of money would motivate them to go back (to 5-day work weeks)”.


You can access the study here.


Employees in the survey also reported the following:  “. .  less burnout (71%), improved mental health (43%), greater satisfaction with their time (73%), and an increase in their abilities at work (55%).”


The survey also found that there was some improvement on the business side of the equation:

  • Business revenue rose by an average of 1.4%
  • Staff Turnover dropped by 57%


RelatedIs the 4-Day Work Week the Next Big Thing?  Forbes


Funeral Director Daily take:  Being a funeral director has many times been likened to a “calling”.  However, it historically has been a position or a calling that required more than the average job in terms of hours to do sufficiently.  People just don’t die from 9-5 Monday through Friday. . . . it just doesn’t happen that way.


Even in an environment that screams of immediacy by consumers such as “I want my pizza in 15 minutes” or “I want those shoes delivered by Amazon tomorrow”, funeral director employment, in my opinion, has improved much since the days of 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.  At least in today’s world most funeral directors live with dedicated time on and dedicated time off.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

However, if we move to a society that moves in a 4-day work week, it is also my opinion that it will be very difficult for traditional funeral homes to operate profitably.  Even in a work world with finite work hours, less coverage of those hours per worker means a business will need more workers.  In traditional funeral service that is a tough task.


It is a tough task because more workers means more wages being paid. . . . and the traditional funeral businesses are already competing in a price point world with the likes of cremation and direct cremation. Higher costs, through more workers, will exacerbate that problem.


Even then, if we can afford those additional workers and if consumers will pay an additional price point for that. . . Where will those professionals come from?  The funeral industry is already going through the pains of not having enough trained employees.


So, we will see where this movement goes.  In the meantime funeral homes need to be creative in how they use and allocate their professional staff.  Will moving arrangements to remote discussion platforms such as Zoom take away the “personal” side of funeral service?  Or, as some are finding out with the advent of online arrangements, is “personal” over-rated and not as necessary as it used to be?


Finally, I know of companies in the death care space who are working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) avatars to work in a world of arrangements and pre-arrangements.  Will our future personnel challenges be helped by this type of technology in the future?


Individual funeral home owners and operators have always found a solution to the problems they face. . . .if we get to a 4-day work week, as difficult as it may be,  I’m pretty sure that we will be up to that challenge as well.


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