Colorado police department's 4-day workweek leads to better response times

FILE - Cars drive in historic downtown Golden, Colorado, home of the Adolph Coors Co., on July 22, 2004. (Photo by Matt Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A police department in Colorado decided to try switching its employees to a four-day workweek – while still paying for 40 hours – and the results were "promising."

So promising, that the department said it plans to continue with four-day workweeks into 2024 and expand the program to other city departments. 

The Golden Police Department switched all of its employees to 32-hour workweeks instead of the normal 40 hours between July and December 2023 without a change in pay. In doing so, officials said they hoped to increase employee retention and well-being, while also increasing the police department's efficiency without interruptions. 

"You’re paying the same, but you’re not getting less," said Golden Police Chief Joe Harvey. 

When fully staffed, the Golden Police Department has 53 certified law enforcement officers – although the department has struggled with recruitment and staffing shortages for years. 

The City of Golden, located just outside of Denver with a population of about 20,000, is home to Coors Brewery, one of the largest brewing facilities in the world, the Colorado School of Mines, and many shops and restaurants in its tourism-friendly downtown area. 

The city said it chose the police department as the pilot group due to its scheduling flexibility – including the 24-hour/three shift coverage needs – as well as the variety of positions within the department, and "multi-generational staff."

Results from Golden PD's 4-day workweek

Success was measured in a variety of ways, including weekly well-being surveys for employees.

The six-month trial ended on Dec. 31, and the department found that police recorded faster response times for calls, on average, during all six months of the pilot – compared to the same timeframe in 2022. 

Data from the six-month trial also showed that crime levels remained stagnant, and the police department’s arrest and ticket numbers remained the same, according to the city.

Meanwhile, Harvey said the police department’s community engagement numbers "increased significantly" and overtime dollars went down.

"Everything indicates that this is going fantastic," Harvey added.

‘Life-changing’ event for police department employees

In conducting regular employee surveys during the pilot program, officials noted how employees were largely in favor of the four-day workweek. 

"The vast majority have reported back that this has been a total life-changing event for them," Harvey said, noting how some even reported having lower blood pressure, better sleep, and a reduction in stress during the six-month pilot. 

During a community meeting earlier this month to discuss the results, Golden City Manager Scott Vargo pointed to the "tagline" of the program: "The four-day workweek means working less hours and doing work differently. It does NOT mean working less and doing less." 

Other four-day workweek programs have found similar results. 

A large trial conducted in 2022 in Britain found that an overwhelming majority of the 61 companies that participated planned to keep up with the shorter hours and that most employees were less stressed and had a better work-life balance.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.