After an unexpectedly promising trial, the company wants to keep the short week permanent
Employees of New Zealand’s company Perpetual Guardian can call themselves some of the luckiest in the whole world’s labour market. Thanks to a surprisingly successful experiment, they will now most likely work only four days a week.
The Kiwi firm that helps customers manage their wills and estates has undergone a two-month trial during which they measured how well the shorter work week was accepted by the staff.
While the more than 240 participating employees were still paid the same wage as if they were working for five days a week, they reported a significant increase in productivity, they experienced better work-life balance and their work-related stress levels dropped.
“It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team,” Perpetual Guardian CEO Andrew Barnes told CNN. “I’m humbled that my team has responded, and they went beyond my wildest dreams.”
Work-life balance ended up to be the category with the most apparent result. Before the experiment was launched, only 54 per cent of respondents reported they had been able to mix their employment with their personal life adequately. After the experiment, the percentage rose to 78.
Stress levels among the staff decreased by around 7 per cent while team engagement rose by around 20 per cent on average.
According to Jarrod Haar of the Auckland University of Technology, one of the researchers who conducted the experiment, the staff’s input was the key to the experiment’s success.
“They were given the freedom to redesign things,” Haar said. The experiment could be a model for other workplaces and become “a revolutionary way to work,” he added.
New Zealand suffers from a lower labour productivity in comparison to other countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Barnes, therefore, wants this new 4-day setting to become permanent saying it could serve as an example for other firms around the world.
“What happens is you get a motivated, energized, stimulated, loyal work force,” he said. “I have ended up with statistics that indicate my staff are fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn.”