Radioactive PR boosted work-life balance with four-day working week

Gloucestershire-based agency Radioactive PR has improved the work-life balance of its 15 employees, and reduced sickness absence rates in the process, by introducing a four-day working week.

In June 2018, it started the six-week trial of a new, shorter working week, subsequently choosing to implement the new system permanently, due to positive employee and client feedback.

The organisation reduced its traditional 36-hour, Monday to Friday schedule and instead implemented a 31-hour week spread over four days; all employees now work from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday, with Fridays as a non-working day.

Staff continue to receive the same full-time salary, despite working a shorter week. However, lunch breaks have decreased from one hour to 45 minutes, and annual leave has reduced from 25 to 20 days a year, in addition to bank holidays and a day off for employees’ birthdays.

Nevertheless, Radioactive PR has calculated that its four-day working week awards staff an extra 44 days off work in total, although staff are on-call on Fridays, evenings and weekends if an urgent situation arises, due to the nature of the PR industry.

Rich Leigh, founder at Radioactive PR, says: “What I feel we’ve done by bringing in a three-day weekend, effectively, is given people the chance to do [personal administration and errands] on the Friday, when it’s quieter, and then they have a weekend. [They] have actual time to switch off from the job.”

An anonymous survey, conducted in June 2019, asked staff whether they had enjoyed a better work-life balance since the policy was launched 12 months prior. On a scale where 0 was not at all and 10 was definitely, three-quarters selected 10, while the lowest recorded score was eight.

Between June 2017 and June 2018, the organisation recorded an average of 1.3 sick days per employee, which had fallen to 0.5 by June 2019.

Despite working a day less each week, Radioactive PR’s turnover improved by 70% between June 2017 to June 2018 and June 2018 to June 2019, while net profit increased from 50.2% to 51.5% over the same reporting period. In addition, the number of CVs the business receives for open job roles has more than doubled since the four-day working week was introduced.

“It ticks the boxes in terms of demonstrating to staff that [the organisation is] willing to invest in [employees]; it’s an investment in ensuring that they’re happy and doing great work,” Leigh explains. “We’ve all got to make a living, how about we do it in as stress-free a way as [possible]?

“By imbuing this sense of trust and this responsibility on the team as well as me, that [creates] a real culture of working for each other rather than against each other.”

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