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How to make the 4 day week work for recruitment companies

This spring has been filled with lots of blissful Bank Holidays, which has made our thoughts turn again to the…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

This spring has been filled with lots of blissful Bank Holidays, which has made our thoughts turn again to the idea of the 4 day week. Once perhaps a bit of an idealistic fringe concept, 4 day working weeks are gaining a lot of traction and support even from larger corporations. Indeed, the biggest ever pilot of the 4 day working week in the UK is currently underway, where 3,000 workers from 60 companies will try out the new work pattern over the next 6 months.

Crucially, a 4 day work week involves no loss of pay for the shorter hours – the idea is that what’s lost in time is made up for in higher productivity, more motivated staff and attracting talented new recruits. Rather than rewarding presenteeism, the 4 day week model focuses on outputs and results. It’s been trialled by companies like Unilever, Microsoft and Panasonic. Campaigners for the 4 day week point out its numerous benefits:

  • For employees: better work/life balance and improved wellbeing
  • For employers: increased productivity and cost savings
  • For the environment: reduced energy consumption and pollutants from commuting
  • For society: reduced unemployment, boost to leisure industries

In a study of employers offering 4 day weeks conducted by Henley Business School, 78% of firms said that employees were happier and 70% that employees were less stressed. Two thirds also said employees took fewer sick days, produced better quality work and that the 4 day week helped them attract and retain the right talent.

However, a 4 day week doesn’t come without its hurdles to negotiate. For example, 82% of businesses said that being available to customers is the biggest barrier to implementing a 4 day week. Client satisfaction and customer service is bound to be at the forefront of many recruiters’ minds as they consider the move to a shorter working week.

So, could a 4 day week work for your recruitment company? In this article, we take a look at how recruitment businesses could adapt to the 4 day week.

Try it out

Making such a big change to operations is bound to feel daunting at first, so consider starting off with a trial period. This will enable you to test, review and assess to ensure that you’re seeing the benefits of the 4 day week, and iron out any potential problems in implementing it.

It’s important not to rush such huge decisions – so take your time, plan carefully, involve staff and clients in the process and try it out! There may be tweaks and compromises to make along the way, and a set trial period will help you manage this process.

Create a new rota

Some businesses reduce their opening hours for a 4 day week, but many keep to the same hours. For most recruitment companies, this will mean being open Monday-Friday, or Monday-Saturday as usual. This means devising a new rota to make sure that you have enough staff in each day to allow the business to function as normal – answering calls, picking up emails, helping with onboarding. This could be in rotating shifts or you could offer staff set days each week.

It’s a good idea to involve your staff in consultation when drawing up these plans, and ask for their preferences. One of the main benefits of the 4 day week is staff satisfaction, so you’ll want to make sure they are happy with what the new arrangements mean for them.

Communicate with your clients

If you’re trialling a 4 day week, make sure you shout about it! Not only is this a good way to reassure your clients that it won’t affect the service they’re getting, but the 4 day week is big in the news at the moment. It’s a great opportunity to get your name out there with some positive publicity and show that you’re a forward-thinking company that values its employees.

Make the numbers work

While the idea of the “pure” 4 day work week is shorter hours for the same pay, in practice some companies have adopted different models. Some ask their employees to accept a pay decrease in return for the extra time off.

Others ask for a “compressed hours” model, where the standard workday is increased from 8 hours to 10, so the number of hours worked remains the same. These models might lessen some of the wellbeing impacts of the changes though, and it’s important to speak with staff about what will work for them, and bear in mind any equality impacts (e.g. working parents might struggle to fit in 10 hour days).

Whatever hours your staffing business works, Kingsbridge can help you save time on those vital areas of compliance. We can provide you with details about our comprehensive contractor insurance packages and offer rewards if your contractors take out our cover. We can also help streamline your IR35 compliance with our hybrid Kingsbridge Status Tool.

For more information, hop on over to our partnerships page.

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