By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

Do you ever feel burned out at the end of the week? Do you anticipate Fridays with bated breath, craving that freedom from work?

Americans spend an average of 44 hours per week (or 8.8 hours a day) at work. It’s no wonder our weeks can leave us feeling exhausted and ready to crash! But what if it didn’t have to be this way?

Good news — it doesn’t! Many companies are finding success in what sounds like an idyllic, but functional, solution: the four-day week.

Studies show people can’t effectively focus on a task for more than four or five hours at a time , before productivity starts slipping. It doesn’t make much sense to keep pushing if you’re not really getting anything done. The four-day week cuts hours back in a way that allows for more work-life balance, greater employee engagement, and less stress.

Does it work?

Sounds great, right? It’s not just a fantasy. Trials for the four-day week show lowered stress levels, a 20% increase in work-life balance, and a 20% increase in engagement across the board. And companies that have implemented the four-day week have seen real world improvements. Amazon announced a 30-hour week initiative, which would allow employees to work core hours of 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and make up the rest of the hours whenever they see fit. This kind of work flexibility lends itself to a work-life balance that we all strive for. After all, not getting that balance can actually negatively affect your health.

Software CEO Jason Fried noticed an increase in productivity when he cut back his company’s hours and started implementing the four-day week. It wasn’t just that his employees were more productive… The work they were producing was even better than it was when they were working 40 hours a week.

Amazon and Fried aren’t the only ones. According to the Society for Human Management, at least 43% of companies offer a four-day week (although the option is only available to about 10% of employees). Companies that utilize the four-day week have better employee retention, morale, and productivity. And employee retention is key in today’s world, where studies show employee loyalty is dropping.

Sixty-six percent of millennials expect to leave their job within four years. Seeing as millennials currently make up the majority of the job market, it’s crucial to see their values are being met — and they value work-life balance and flexible schedules.

The 40-hour week is an antiquated concept, brought about in the 1930s to protect workers who were putting in excessively long hours with no overtime or minimum wage. But it simply isn’t right for the modern age. If businesses want more productive and fewer burned out employees, they need to look into the four-day week as an effective and proven solution. Chances are, whether you’re an employer or employee, the four-day week is right for you.

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.