An Argument for the Four-day Workweek

By: Marie Donlon

After a two-month trial of a four-day workweek, a New Zealand company is entertaining the idea of making such a scheme permanent.

Over an eight-week period in March and April of this year, employees at the trust firm Perpetual Guardian worked a four-day workweek while getting paid for a five-day workweek.

The results — according to researchers from the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology, who conducted a survey of the company’s employees after the trial — found that employee stress levels were down (from 45 percent to 38 percent) and employees experienced an improved work-life balance (from 54 percent to 78 percent).

Yet, the most surprising finding, according to the survey, involved productivity.

 "Our leadership team reported that there was broadly no change in company outputs pre and during the trial," said Andrew Barnes founder and CEO of Perpetual Guardian.

"They perceived no reduction in job performance and the survey data showed a marginal increase across most teams," Barnes added.

Additionally, respondents of the survey reported increased engagement at virtually every level of the company.

"What we've seen is a massive increase in engagement and staff satisfaction about the work they do, a massive increase in staff intention to continue to work with the company and we've seen no drop in productivity," Barnes explained.

Impressed by the results, Barnes originally intended to only trial the four-day workweek, but is now calling for its full adoption by the company’s board.

"It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team," he said

"What happens is you get a motivated, energised, stimulated, loyal work force. I have ended up with statistics that indicate my staff are fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn."