Unilever Australia to trial four-day week

Unilever introduces flexible benefits system for global employeesConsumer goods firm Unilever has extended its four-day week trial to its operations in Australia, following an encouraging 18-month pilot with its 80 members of staff in New Zealand.

The trial will run from 14 November for 12 months initially, with employees retaining 100% of their salaries while working 80% of the time, and aiming to deliver 100% of business outcomes. The results will be reviewed at the end of 2023.

Staff will have the flexibility to choose which day or set of hours to take off that suits them best, while also ensuring it works for their team and for the business. They will use existing technology and new tools to support efficient work practices, such as less frequent but more effective meetings, fewer emails and the adoption of Microsoft Teams.

The initial four-day work week trial in New Zealand ran from December 2020 to June 2022. Unilever collaborated with the University of Technology Sydney Business School, which monitored and measured the trial through online surveys, business results and in-depth interviews, with 67% of employees reporting a better work-life balance.

Nicky Sparshott, chief executive officer at Unilever ANZ, said: “The experiment builds on Unilever’s ambition to enhance the wellbeing of both its people and business. Bringing the trial to Australia is an opportunity to explore different ways to unlock more value for the team and the business across both markets. By removing project processes and protocols that add less value, throughout our week, we are able to free up time to work on items that matter most to the people we serve, externally and internally.”

Placid Jover, expertise, innovation and finance chief HR officer at Unilever, added: “In the world of work, we know flexibility is key to attracting talent and having an engaged workforce. This trial is part of a much bigger commitment to engaging with our people to look at flexibility and new work models, with the aim of evolving, adapting and improving the experience of work.”