Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand estate-planning company, recently made headlines for putting 240 of their employees on a 4-day workweek without reducing their salaries. The trial, which ran from March to April under the watchful eye of outside researchers, was a "resounding success," as the company told CNNMoney. Perpetual Guardian employees reported greater productivity, better work-life compatibility, and lower stress levels as a result of the compressed schedule.
"It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team," CEO Andrew Barnes told CNNMoney. "I'm humbled that my team has responded, and they went beyond my wildest dreams."
The statistics are impressive. After the trial, 78 percent of employees said they could manage their work-life balance, while only 54 percent could before. Meanwhile, metrics used to measure team engagement rose an average of 20 percent, while staff stress levels fell about 7 percent.
During the trial, the company's employees were "given the freedom to redesign things," said researcher Jarrod Haar of the Auckland University of Technology—using flags on their desk as "do not disturb" signals, for example. (Humorously, one employee even said he stopped looking at apartment listings during work hours.)
Because of the success of the trial, Barnes recommended that his board make the 4-day work week permanent. "Why am I not paying based on output?" he said. "Why am I paying for days in the office?"
The results of Perpetual Guardian’s experiment are exciting and a clear indication that workplace norms are shifting—but before moving forward with a compressed workweek at your company, it’s important to recognize that one-size-fits-all solutions may work for some employees but not all. That's why we developed technology that helps companies identify the flexibility needs of their employees, compare it to their perceived flexibility access, and measure the impact of that gap on critical business metrics like productivity, engagement, and diversity efforts. So instead of basing new employee initiatives on a hunch as Barnes did, companies can gain a true understanding of the diverse needs of their employee population before rolling out significant changes.
Are you ready to measure the flexibility needs of your employee population?