22nd March 2023
By Sophie Mills
The world of work has changed quicker and more profoundly over the last few years than at any time in my lifetime.
We’ve witnessed three ‘once in a generation’ shocks in just a few short years, starting with Brexit, then the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently the unprecedented energy and material price increases caused (largely) by the war in Ukraine.
But one of the other big changes I’ve seen is the collective change in mindset on work-life balance and wellbeing. This has been an incredibly positive by-product of this huge upheaval, but also one that has presented challenges for employers on staff recruitment and retention.
There is a shortage of labour across many industries, and this is being felt acutely in manufacturing and construction. It’s further reinforced our view that looking after the people we have and being able to attract new people is paramount.
One of the ways we’re doing this is offering a working pattern that can improve people’s work-life balance and overall sense of wellbeing.
And we’re proud to announce we’ve started a six-month trial of moving fully to a four-day week (apart from deliveries and on-site teams) meaning more of our staff can now benefit from a shorter working week for the same pay.
Where our four-day week began
We have always been a forward-thinking organisation and feel proud that we’re generally ahead of the curve when it comes to new ideas and technologies within our industry.
For over 10 years we have operated a four-day working week for our production staff with a Monday to Thursday shift pattern, something that has undoubtably helped with staff retention on the factory floor.
When we first made this change for the production staff, we didn’t think it would be a viable option for our office-based team because we believed customers may see this as a barrier to using our services if we could not be reached on a Friday.
However, since the start of the pandemic, not only have staff changed the way they see the role of work in their lives, but our customers have altered their expectations. Our customers expect to work with people that work from home or work hybrid and flexible shift patterns.
As well as this there has been a significant trial in the UK on the four-day week which for most has been a success and has led to many businesses adopting it permanently.
What we’re doing now
Midway through 2022 we proposed changing our hours of work for all staff to a four-day pattern, working Monday to Thursday. We used a specialist HR support consultancy to help us prepare a business case, assessing how this could be done, what impacts it might have and what benefits it might bring.
Extending the four-day week company-wide would bring our office staff in line with our production staff and represent a reduction in working hours, but with salaries maintained at current levels. The net effect of this will be a 10% pay increase per hour for all staff.
We hope our trial of this new working pattern will result in the same productivity and process improvements in other parts of our business that we first witnessed when production moved to a four-day week all those years ago.
At the same time, we’re confident there will be no detrimental impact on the business or our customer relationships, because despite these changes we will continue to go above and beyond to support them. Our delivery and on-site installation teams will continue working five days a week, which means its business as usual for our work on-site.
We’re hopeful this will have a transformative impact on our greatest asset – our colleagues – and we’ve had some amazing feedback from the team so far.