Four-day week: trial finds lower stress and increased productivity

Four-day week: trial(ˈtrī(ə)l) finds lower stress(stres) and increased productivity

Study of pilot(ˈpīlət) at New Zealand(ˈzēlənd) firm finds staff were happier and 20% more productive

By Robert(ˈräbərt) Booth

The founder of one of the first big companies to switch to a four-day working week has called on others to follow, claiming it has resulted in a 20% rise(rīz) in productivity, appeared to have helped increase profits(ˈpräfət) and improved staff wellbeing.

Analysis(əˈnaləsəs) of one of the biggest trials yet of the four-day working week has revealed(rəˈvēl) no fall in output, reduced stress and increased staff engagement(enˈgājmənt), fuelling(ˈfyo͞oəl) hopes that a better work-life balance for millions could be in sight.

Perpetual(pərˈpeCHo͞oəl) Guardian(ˈgärdēən), a New Zealand financial(fəˈnan(t)SHəl, fīˈnan(t)SHəl) services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained(mānˈtān) their pay. Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released(rəˈlēs) on Tuesday has revealed.

The trial was monitored(ˈmänədər) by academics(ˌakəˈdemik) at the University of Auckland(ˈôklənd) and Auckland University of Technology. Among the Perpetual Guardian staff they found scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation(ˌstimyəˈlāSH(ə)n), empowerment(əmˈpouərmənt) and commitment(kəˈmitmənt) all increased compared with a 2017 survey.

Details(dəˈtāl, ˈdētāl) of an earlier trial showed the biggest increases were in commitment and empowerment. Staff stress levels were down from 45% to 38%. Work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” said Andrew(ˈandro͞o) Barnes, Perpetual Guardian’s founder and chief executive(iɡˈzekyədiv). “We need to get more companies to give it a go. They will be surprised at the improvement in their company, their staff and in their wider community.”