A New Zealand company has discovered that the key to getting employees to work harder may be giving them more time off. Following a two-month experiment with four-day work weeks, the company is now considering implementing the unconventional schedule year-round, the Independent reports.
The estate and will management business Perpetual Guardian rolled out the four-day work week across 16 of its offices in March. Days looked the same, with all 240 employees still clocking in eight hours, and their pay didn't change despite them working one day a week less.
As you might guess, employees were much happier working four days a week than they were with five. Following the trial, satisfaction with work-life balance increased from 54 percent to 78 percent and stress levels dropped from 45 percent to 38 percent.
Not only did employees benefit from the change, but their employers saw positive results as well. Their workers became more productive, ignoring the social media and personal emails they would normally check during work hours in favor of doing actual work. The levels of engagement in areas like leadership, commitment, stimulation, and empowerment also rose across the board.
New Zealand isn't the first place to toy with shorter work weeks. A few years ago, a government-run Swedish retirement home switched to 30-hour weeks (in this case they cut days down to six hours instead of getting rid of one day entirely) and they found that nurses were more energetic and performed better at their jobs.
The board at Perpetual Guardian is now looking into making four-day weeks the company standard.