'It can really help you retain your best people and attract top talent'
“This is something that really is a life-changing and transformative benefit for people.”
So says Joe O’Connor, director of the Canadian-based Work Time Reduction Centre of Excellence, who recently sat down for a podcast with Canadian HR Reporter’s Jeffrey Smith to discuss the results of a four-day workweek pilot program involving 41 companies in North America.
That program recently wrapped and by most indicators it was a success, says O’Connor
“For many organizations who maybe can’t compete in the top 1% of compensation, this is really a unique opportunity to do something which, while it’s growing in popularity, is still unique enough in most industries that it can really help you to retain your best people and to attract top talent,” he says.
O’Connor discussed the program results, the concept of the four-day workweek, and what comes next in the latest podcast edition of CHRR Talk.
Strong commitment needed for 4-day week success
For those businesses who joined the pilot, there were a few ground rules that first had to be established, according to O’Connor.
“The premise is quite simple. The organizations that participated, and it was a voluntary program, they needed to commit to putting in place a work-time reduction model over the course of the trial period, which was six months, which effectively offered a genuine reduction in work time. It didn’t need to be a full 20% but it did mean that you couldn’t compress the same number of hours into four-days so there was genuine reduction of work time in exchange for the same level of salary.”
When the initial six-month period ended, all 41 organizations decided to stick with the new schedule moving forward, and they all had great results, he says.
“We saw these companies experienced a year-on-year increase in revenue growing successful businesses. We also saw some very statistically significant improvements across a whole range of employee-wellbeing indications,” says O’Connor.
For one employer, the switch to a four-day week was “very much embraced by a ton of folks.”
In order to make the transition successfully, participating organizations will have to embark upon a focussed and concerted effort to make it work, says O’Connor.
“There’s a real recognition that this is something that requires a commitment to continuous improvement, that’s really conditional on meeting very clearly defined performance targets and that requires a culture of collective accountability and collective responsibility, where in exchange for this really transformative benefit, people are really pumped with this challenge of how can we improve our processes? How can we change our work practice? How can we do things differently in order to accommodate this reduction in work time?”