Updated: Jan 31
Momentum continues to build in favour of scrapping the 9-5 as we know it. In its place, employers are stretching their collective imaginations to create attractive and effective ways for employees to be at their best. Step up the 4-day work week, which is an idea that companies are starting to take very seriously.
A breakthrough case in 2018 was that of Perpetual Guardian. The New-Zealand based firm braced itself for a thorough experiment and examination of the concept that tested the merits of reducing the hours of its employees, but maintaining the same pay levels. What findings and conclusions did the company present to the world? Well, it works – for the company and for employees.
Indeed, findings from the academics who studied the project concluded that job and life satisfaction increased and employees performed better in role, whilst also enjoying their roles more than they did prior to the experimental 4-day work week trial.
An ‘unmitigated success’ declared news outlets worldwide. Interestingly, reducing hours whilst maintaining the same pay levels proved popular in a wide range of circles especially with employees. Is this a no-brainer? How much time is wasted because we must report to work at times and schedules that are deemed suitable by management? In a lot of cases, the reluctance to move forward with more progressive practices is simply due to a protection racket- management and companies protecting the long-held status-quo rather than innovating solutions that work well for all the key stakeholders within a business.
Andrew Barnes, the architect of this new experience and the firm’s CEO led with human-centricity and initially wanted to find ways to support people with their home lives whilst helping people become more focused at work. Co-creation is at the centre of all great experiences in work and it was the very same with Perpetual Guardian. It was employees themselves who defined a range of ideas and ways to innovate the employee experience to boost individual and business performance.
It's an example that others are moving quickly to emulate and new supporters are being drawn to this idea everyday. In fact, the 4-day work week is being monitored and followed closely across political, social, and economic spectrums.
“I believe that in this century, we can win a four-day working week, with decent pay for everyone,” Frances O’Grady, the head of the Trade Union Congress said in 2018 to mark the launch of a flagship campaign by Britain’s trade union movement to make this a reality. The mission is on to bring this to many more workplaces and this is one idea that doesn't immediately appear to be a divisive one. That's not to say it will be quick to implement across economies, but the goodwill around this concept is palpable from all quarters, and the business results from the early movers are beginning to make a compelling case for change.
Realistically, there are many areas that colleagues can focus on to improve the employee experience, but working hours is certainly creeping up the corporate agenda. Yet, this goes beyond flexible working. This, in my view, represents a much bigger move to redefine the type of relationship companies can build and sustain with employees over the long-term. Would you like to work for an employer that cared enough to help you balance and manage your personal life more effectively? That actively sought to create the best possible conditions for you to thrive personally and professionally?
Many would, and in the case of Perpetual Guardian, the 4-day work week is now a permanent part of an EX that has captured the attention of people everywhere. The world is looking on with admiration and quiet envy because this is an employer that has truly broken the mould to deliver an excellent experience for its employees, in and outside of work.