People & Human Resources

NZ business makes four-day work week permanent: Should you consider giving workers another day off?

Matthew Elmas /

Perpetual Guardian Andrew Barnes

Perpetual Guardian chief executive Andrew Barnes. Source: Women's Agenda.

The longstanding discussion about the merit of the four-day work week moved from thinkpiece topic to reality this week, after a New Zealand-based business signed off on the practice.

The company, Perpetual Guardian, will allow workers who opt-in to claim a weekly rest day, provided they meet “weekly productivity objectives”.

All participating workers will be paid their normal salaries, the company said.

It follows what Perpetual founder Andrew Barnes called a “successful” trial of the program, but the business has had to do a bit of wrangling with NZ labour laws to get the policy off the ground.

As Barnes explained to the NZ Herald, laws across the Tasman consider employment in terms of hours worked, rather than productivity — which he thinks is silly.

“We’re not focusing on the right thing. We’re focusing on the days and therefore the assumption is the days deliver the amount worked, but this doesn’t always hold true,” he said.

Barnes believes the four-day week will boost worker productivity and therefore deliver better business outcomes.

The independent research he commissioned to assess the trial supports that view.

Staff stress levels decreased from 45% to 38% after the trial, while the research also found employee’s ratings of work-life balance improved from 54% last year to 78% after the trial.

Team engagement also increased, based on a scale method used in the research. Leadership scores improved from 64% to 82%, while stimulation scores are up from 66% to 84%.

Barnes has encouraged other employers to consider the merits of the four-day week and says many governments, including Australia, have already reached out to consult him.

NOW READ: Fewer hours, same pay: NZ company’s four day work week trial a success

NOW READ: Research supports a four-day work week with five days’ pay

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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