Thursday, July 8, 2021

Pilot-program shows promising results

A pilot-program in Iceland set up to test the pros and cons of a four-day work week has resulted in overwhelmingly positive results.
Conducted between 2015-2019, about 2,500 workers worked between 35-36 hours per week rather than the traditional 40 hours with no reduction in pay.
"The results are hugely positive. Workers from all sorts of areas of the public sector are incredibly happy with their work-life balance, spending more time with their families, doing more kind of extracurricular activities — things like cycling, taking up new hobbies, and so on," researcher Will Stronge said on the CBC Radio program As It Happens.
"It's been an overwhelming success, as you might imagine ... from the workers' perspective, but also one from the employers too."
His study found managers reported increased productivity among workers in the best-cases and, at-worst, reported productivity remained stable. Add to that, employers reported no negative effect on their bottom line.
From the CBC story:
Stronge says that's because employees were less likely to suffer from workplace stress, anxiety, depression and burnout. As a result, they worked harder and took fewer sick days.
"They kind of had a greater energy on the job and actually enjoyed their work a bit more," he said. "Which sounds very rosy — but that is what comes out of a lot of these trials, is that people feel actually more attached to the job. In a way, they feel rewarded by having more time."
The Icelandic findings are on par with other similar experiments around the world. Microsoft Japan tried a four-day workweek in 2019 and reported a 40 per cent boost in productivity. A New Zealand company called Perpetual Guardian switched permanently to a four-day week in 2018 after its trials saw a 20 per cent increase in productivity.
Municipal employees in Guysborough, N.S., ran a four-day workweek pilot in 2020 and found it to be such a positive experience, they voted in April to keep the policy in place.
B.C. Premier John Horgan recently said a four-day workweek is not "off the table" in his province, as Canadians emerge from the pandemic.
With New Brunswick emerging from the pandemic and businesses in need of a jolt, perhaps the provincial government should consider this move. It could be something to offer public sector workers amid stalled contract negotiations.
It could both help the stalemate at the bargaining table while having a positive effect on productivity and the potential to increase economic activity.
Click here to read the CBC story.