This year a pilot programme will be run in conjunction with Cambridge and Oxford academics alongside Boston College, the UK 4 Day Week Campaign and the thinktank Autonomy. It is being overseen by 4 Day Week Global, a campaign group. It will be a six-month trial scheduled to begin in June and the researchers hope to attract between 20 and 30 businesses in total.
BBC Radio Norfolk invited Fran Ellington our Business Development Director and ESG Lead to represent a business in Norfolk that has already seen the benefits of the four-day week, since introducing it in 2019.
Listen to Fran talking to Kayleigh Poacher of BBC Radio Norfolk on 19th January 2022, from just after 11.35 minutes into the programme.
Fran started by correcting some common misconceptions such as everyone wanting to take Fridays off – although this is quite popular at TBLA! Why not a Monday to ease the start of the week or a Wednesday to break up the week and recharge the batteries for the next two days?
To explain the benefits to society Fran used the example of busy parents working long hours, to pay the rent and put food on the table while being unable to attend their children’s school events or even be home for them at the end of the school day. What if once or twice a week they could check in with their children, help out at the school or be there at the school gates to have an informal chat with other parents and their teachers. The benefits of such an opportunity are endless!
For the business, Fran stressed the importance of retaining productive staff, improving employee morale, and recruiting the best talent in the context of what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. It has been suggested that one in four UK workers are planning a job change. In fact, in a recent survey by Oxford Economics, 49% of respondents said they “would leave their current jobs for a lower-paying position at a company with better organizational culture.”
A 4-day week helps companies become better, more efficient places to work; previous studies have shown that attention at work increases by 30%. Recent experiments include Microsoft in Japan, which cited an increase in productivity by 40%. One of our 2019 recruits, assistant accountant, Leah Malpas tells us, “When I started at TBLA, having just left a 5-day week company – I felt more productive as I was less tired and had longer to chill, relax and recover from tough weeks!”
We love the analogy included in an excellent short social media video using a sporting analogy – would you want your team to go on the pitch exhausted? Of course not! Why should we not foster greater creativity and better work-life balance with all the knock-on benefits to families and society at large?
Peter was recently interviewed for an EDP Business article on this topic. He explains, “it as part of a wider approach towards being a successful modern business, including being a “real living wage” employer and keeping environmental and social issues within their agenda.
“We want to empower our staff, where everyone has a voice and is a leader where they need to be. The four-day working week is just one part of our efforts to be a socially conscious business that is not just profit-oriented.
This makes us more attractive as a business to employees, and we now have a better quality, and diverse, pool of staff. By paying people appropriate wages and offering good working terms and conditions, our employees are empowered because they enjoy their work and space between work.”
So what proof do we have from the TBLA two-year experiment? While there are multiple causes, including not prioritising a high profit margin over people’s wellbeing, we have seen turnover grow by 60% in the last two years and the business has grown from 4 employees in early 2019 to a current team of 12. Look out for an announcement soon regarding the latest recruit – a new very qualified and experienced Head of Advisory starting in February – who has again turned down more highly paid vacancies to work with a company that is both ethical and sustainable.
Image credit: Gail D’Almaine Photography
Fran joined TBLA in 2019 after a long career in teaching. Her roles include human resources management, ESG and Marketing. During 2020 and 2021 she developed the TBLA Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact service. As part of the process, she has carried out an impact analysis of the TBLA social and governance profile and a whole company carbon calculation with accompanying target setting, carbon reduction action plan and impact narrative. Fran is now working alongside the growing ESG team to help more SMEs plan for Net Zero around the UK. Fran is also on the board of the Norwich Business Climate Leaders hoping to accelerate the transition to Net Zero.