An Irish business that switched to a four-day working week nearly two years ago has seen big increases in profits, sales and productivity.
Irish companies are being encouraged to join a new four-day working week trial to see how the strategy can benefit their business.
Driven by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, the trial will offer businesses training, mentoring and advice from companies all over the world that have already made the change.
They will also have access to “world-class academic research and expert analysis” from Boston College and UCD.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Margaret Cox, Director of ICE Group in County Galway said the move has been a “win/win” for the company and its employees.
“We have become more profitable, we have increased our sales, we have reduced our absenteeism and we have increased our productivity,” she said.
“But most importantly, we have increased the wellness ratios in terms of our employees and our employee engagement and we are very proud of that.”
She said the company has “very hard evidence” showing the benefits of the strategy – noting that the company is doing 30% more business than it did before it made the move to a four-day week.
She said the company operates a ‘blended model’ with rosters running from Monday to Thursday and Tuesday to Friday.
“Everybody has a three-day weekend,” she said. “It is a bank holiday weekend every week at ICE Group.”
She said the company had to change its mindset to benefit from the strategy.
“What we talk about is four-day week behaviour,” she said. “You can’t do it with five-day week behaviour.
“Every meeting we go into, it is very simple, we have an agenda. It is supposed to be for 30 minutes and if it is really important, we might go to 45 minutes.
“The idea is that you come prepared. You are not just running in reading the minutes of the last meeting as you are sitting at the table. Simple little things like that.
“We have an uninterrupted time at work but we also have a focus – I want to get this done because the prize for me as an individual but also for the organisation is that I can go home on Thursday night and I don’t have to come back to work until Monday – I am off Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Also on the show, Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan said the launch of the new campaign marks a, “really exciting day for the future of work – not just in Ireland but internationally.”
He said the idea is based around the 100/80/100 principal - 100% pay, 80% time, 100% productivity.
“That is key because it isn’t the case that we are saying you should do the normal amount of working time but just in a lesser number of days,” he said. “What we are saying is, this is about working smarter.
“The businesses that have embraced it have found that their staff are more engaged, more refreshed and more productive as result.”
Future of work
He said some organisations will find the idea easier to implement than others, but noted that: “If we don’t start somewhere, we’re never going to get there.”
“It is over 100 years since the trade union movement achieved the eight-hour day,” he said. “It is more than 50 years since we in trade union movement won the weekend.
“Why wouldn’t we now set our sights on a four-day working week. It is not something we see as just around the corner. This is going to take time but if we don’t start like this, we are never going to get there.”
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