New Zealand-based statutory trust organisation Perpetual Guardian has improved work-life balance among its 240 employees by 24% as a result of introducing a four-day working week.
Perpetual Guardian ran an eight-week pilot of the four-day working week in March and April 2018 for all of its staff. This pilot enabled all employees to nominate and receive a fully paid day off each week, to reduce their total number of working days from five to four. During the pilot, existing working hours and salaries remained the same and staff were not expected to perform extra hours to make up time.
The trial was designed to start a conversation around workplace flexibility and challenge typical working patterns. It also sought to uncover whether increased working flexibility and more free personal time would lead to an increase in productivity.
According to research conducted before and after the pilot period, undertaken by independent academic researchers, work-life balance has improved by 24%, rising from 54% in November 2017 to 78% after the eight-week pilot period. Job stress has reduced by 7%, falling from 45% before the four-day working week was introduced to 38% after the eight-week pilot.
Employee engagement increased by 5% since the new working hours were implemented, rising from 79% to 84% after the eight weeks, and commitment to the organisation improved by 20%, moving from 68% to 88%. Employees also feel more confident doing their jobs, as empowerment levels increased from 68% to 86%, an improvement of 18%. Job satisfaction has also increased by 4% to reach 81% from 77%, and work stimulation has improved from 66% to 84%.
Andrew Barnes (pictured), founder at Perpetual Guardian, said: “Our analysis of the results shows the objectives of the trial were successfully met. The key areas we sought to measure, including work-life balance, engagement, organisational commitment and work stimulation, all showed positive increases. That is a powerful combination that leads to job satisfaction. Both the qualitative and quantitative research attached to our trial correlate this.
“Our leadership team reported that there was broadly no change in [organisation] outputs [before] and during the trial. They perceived no reduction in job performance and the survey data showed a marginal increase across most teams.
“This is about flexible working and about using technology to enable that. I am pleased with the results of the trial and am thankful to the researchers, Professor Jarrod Haar and Dr Helen Delaney, who took on the challenge of studying how this trial has affected staff and the [organisation].
“The researchers have found that the four-day work week is doable. This is a promising outcome and one that we are eager to work through in terms of how we adopt more flexible working arrangements within our business. I am working with my board and HR team and consulting within the business on ways in which we can implement the four-day work week where appropriate. The learnings and challenges that were uncovered as part of the trial raise a number of questions that we will work through to ensure we address areas that need improvement or further innovation in order to increase flexibility and productivity.”