In June 2022, it was widely reported that more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies, ranging from a local chippy to large financial firms, would start working a four-day week in the world’s biggest trial of the new working pattern. SG World were well ahead of the game when back in November 2021, Mark Haase, SG World CEO, announced the introduction of a 4 day week pilot scheme. Six months on, we spoke to Emma Stevens, SG World HR Manager, to find out how the project was going.
So Emma – where are we now?
From the outset Mark has been very clear that as a company we were ready to embrace the idea of a 4 day week but it had to work for all the stakeholders - our employees, customers and partners. I’m happy to report we now have 65% of SG World staff on a 4 day week and our feedback mechanisms are showing no negative impact on overall productivity but huge gains in staff morale and motivation. We’re currently working on bringing the Finance Team on board and will continue to expand the scheme across the business.
What have been the challenges?
Well, we knew we were going to be learning as we went along, so we’ve been very consultative throughout the process, working with the different departments to find the best approach. For example, introducing the customer facing departments to a 4 day week needed a lot of thought because great customer service remains a top priority for SG World. Consequently, with our Technical Helpdesk team we tweaked the blanket “Friday off” model to a rota system and this is working very well.
What would you say to a business thinking about adopting a four day week?
I’d have no reservations in recommending they give it a try. Regular consultation and a flexible approach are the keys to a successful outcome. The implementation has actually been fairly painless and where we did hit a snag there was always a solution because people really want it to work.
We are currently in the process of conducting a staff engagement survey and it’s already very clear that the 4 day week makes a massive contribution to overall staff morale. It’s also key in attracting future talent to the business. Obviously, people like the idea of a longer weekend but it’s also highly indicative of a forward-thinking employer who takes the work/life balance seriously and is willing to embrace new ideas.
Last question – what do you do on your Fridays Emma?
It was quite strange at first. I actually felt I was playing truant for the first couple of weeks. I guess like a lot of people, the extra day gives me a chance to get on top of all of the routine domestic chores and admin so I have the rest of the weekend for the fun stuff. It’s made a huge impact – you’re not constantly playing catch-up but have the time and space to relax and recharge. I love it and would find it very difficult working any other way.