Is HR ready for a four-day work week?

The change has reportedly led to a 20% rise in productivity without any drop off in output

Is HR ready for a four-day work week?

Is it time to switch to a four-day work week? For one company, the experiment has proven positive as it led to higher levels of productivity and lower levels of stress among workers.

New Zealand financial services firm Perpetual Guardian in November changed the schedule of 240 of its employees from a five-day to a four-day work week without changing their pay to test the impact of having a shorter work week on productivity.

The shift in work schedule purportedly resulted in a 20% increase in productivity, without any drop off in output throughout the trial, the company reported.

The researchers also claimed a noticeable improvement in the engagement and wellbeing of employees. When compared with the results of a 2017 trial, stress levels went down from 45% to 38%. Participants also showed better work-life balance scores from 54% to 78%.

Perpetual Guardian founder and CEO Andrew Barnes urged other organisations to also switch to a four-day work week. His team published the findings along with a how-to guide for companies looking to implement a similar schedule.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” Barnes said. “We need to get more companies to give it a go. They will be surprised at the improvement in their company, their staff and in their wider community.”

Employees also welcomed the results of the trial, pointing out the positive impact it has had on their wellbeing.

“We’ve been treated like adults and I think as a result everyone is behaving like adults,” Tammy Barker, a branch manager and one of the participants of the trial, told media outlet The Guardian.

The Perpetual Guardian trial has attracted attention from organisations in 28 countries, including Australia, Germany, the UK and the US.

In the UK, the Labour party commissioned a similar study on the benefits of a four-day work week. However, early findings suggested implementing the switch might be difficult, given the complexity of meeting high productivity goals in certain industries.

 

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