A New Zealand trust company is putting its money where its mouth is by trialing a four-day work week for its full-time.
With the advancement of technology, life has changed much since our grandparents and even our parents starting working in the twentieth century.
To accommodate the change, Perpetual Guardian has decided to trial a four-day work week for its full-time staff, but they would still be paid for five.
Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual, said that the aim of the trial was to increase productivity and start a conversation that challenged the traditional working week.
“Employees live very different lives today. They are single parents, or both working parents, and most of all they want a life outside of work too,” Barnes explained.
“Employers have the responsibility of thinking about the health and well being of their employees,” he added.
Barnes said that he wants to challenge the traditional working week model that has Saturdays and Sundays as days off.
With a four-day week, employees might have to work weekends and take weekdays off, he explained.
The hours would not be compressed, and employees would work 32 hours instead of 40.
The trial is set to start in March and last for six weeks. If successful, it will be implemented permanently from July 1.
According to a report by Stuff, Germany and the Netherlands have already implemented a 32-hour work week.
Barnes added that a shorter but more productive week would allow businesses to get the most out of their employees.
Professor of human resources management at Auckland University of Technology, Jarrod Haar, agreed, pointing out that a shorter week would benefit businesses in the long run by increasing job satisfaction. He said that satisfied employees would reduce staff turnover.
There are other issues that would need to be factored in when considering shortening the work week.
Bill Newson, national secretary for the E tu union, warned that the the issue was complex and that there were a number of factors that need to be considered.
He pointed out that questions around overtime pay, sick leave, statutory holidays and annual leave accumulation would have to be considered.
“These are all issues that have to be identified and agreed on so that there’s no argument further down the track when people move to a four-day week,” Newson pointed out.
“But assuming all of those issues and others are recognised and agreed to, then the attraction of a three-day weekend is compelling,” he added.