If you need any proof that business here and abroad is in the middle of a ‘productivity crisis’ check out the Guardian article (linked below) which outlines the extreme steps one kiwi company is taking to motivate their staff: Work four get one free.
The 40 hour – five day working week has long been a staple of the modern labour force. The titan of industry Henry Ford was the pioneer who first drastically cut employee shifts. Capping a working day from a back-breaking 16 hours, down to a more humane eight. This spawned the idea of the 9-5 day that has been a part of our lives for almost a century. At the time, this idea was considered radical, Ford’s critics and competitors were convinced the move would bankrupt him, the industrial revolution was built on over-exploited workers! Instead Ford saw an unprecedented rise in employee retention, worker satisfaction and productivity, all of which history will tell us, translated incredibly well to Ford’s bottom line.
In the century since this labour revolution, employers have found the relentless ‘always connected’ culture of the 21st century is putting employees under new stress which has led to an ‘epidemic in lost productivity.’ We may have an eight hour working day, but that smartphone is turned on 24/7. Progressive countries like the Netherlands have been combating this for a number of years by reducing the workforce to a 32 hour working week, now progressive kiwi company Perpetual Guardian is upping the ante; dropping the hours but not the pay. Andrew Barnes announced his plans of a 6 week trial in which all of Perpetual Guardians 200 employees will be paid for five days but only work four. Barnes reasoning is that by giving his employees a free day, they will be more motivated and more productive during the four days they are in the office. Opinion is divided on the move, the NZ Productivity Commission simply calling it ‘an expensive experiment.’ Whereas NZ Professor and expert on nonstandard work practices Elizabeth George, is anticipating a sucess which may encourage other NZ businesses to follow suit.
Whatever you might think about the ‘work four get one free’ working week to combat unproductivity, it begs kiwi employers to ask the question; isn’t there a cheaper way? For companies that aren’t too keen on such drastic and expensive steps, wellness in the workplace could be that way. Employee wellness programs lead to measurable decreases in stress, staff absenteeism due to genuine health reasons (and not so genuine) Simple workshops translate to more engaged and more productive employees, without paying for a permanent three-day weekend.
It may not take a revolutionary change like Henry Ford’s, it may not take a change like Perpetual Guardian’s work four get one free, but it will take change. Get in touch now to find how EWP Services can change your workplace productivity.