This spring, a New Zealand company tried a new experiment: Employees could work four standard days instead of five, but would be paid their usual salary. “If I gave people a day off a week to do all the other stuff that got in the way-all the little problems that you might have outside of work-would you then get better productivity in the office in the four days when people worked?”. Job stress declined from 45% to 38%. Employees’ sense of engagement with their work went up, and their commitment to their employer rose from 68% to 88%. They found their work more stimulating, had more confidence in the leadership team, and felt more empowered in their roles. When a new mother negotiates a shorter work week, in most jobs now, “She gets paid 20% less,” he says. “You need to re-educate your workforce because AI may be coming in in the future and jobs that are good now may well be overtaken in a few years. This gives a day off for someone to study and retrain.” Employees have to be empowered to find new ways to do their work. “If you’re in a company where you’re doing the work of two people, trying to do that in four days rather than five is just going to be impossible.” But he says it’s worth testing, as Barnes did.
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