For most working Americans, life revolves around a 5-day work-week. While this may not be anything new, the increase in technology usage and a growing “always-on” mentality has caused a significant shift in the 40-hour work week. Today, half of all full-time workers report working more than 40 hours a week, and many even work 50 to 60+ hours a week. Companies are striving to become more competitive and successful, which requires more output, but such pursuits often come at the expense of their employees’ health and happiness.

What employers actually need in order to increase output isn’t more of their employees’ time, it’s greater productivity. Long work hours have been proven to cause employees to not only become mentally drained, but sometimes even physically ill as well. Long hours and high stress have been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart problems, and risk of depression.

When employees are unhappy and unhealthy as a result of overworking and stress, turnover increases -- and turnover is expensive. That said, when employers implement programs that prioritize their teams’ mental and physical health, they see increases in productivity, higher retention, reduced insurance costs, and more.

For these reasons, in recent years, an increasing number of corporations have implemented employee wellness programs and other policies focused on improving the workplace. One particularly popular option is for companies to adopt a 4-day work week, with a 3-day weekend. Companies like KFC, Treehouse, and Basecamp have done so, and have seen improved employee health, loyalty, happiness, and productivity as a result.

According to Basecamp CEO Jason Fried, for example, at their company, “better work gets done in four days than in five.” Their employees use the extended weekend to spend time with friends and family and get some much-needed relaxation, ultimately coming back to work ready to focus and be productive.

Take a look at  this infographic designed by Investment Zen for more information about the efficacy of the 4-day work week, and start thinking about how you can implement something like this at your own workplace, or talk to your boss about it.