Head of Employment | Management Team | Private Equity
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As the post-covid business world now looks to the future of the workplace, we are seeing increasing numbers of businesses set out revised commitments to office based working. As flexibility decreases and financial pressures such as increased mortgage rates and living costs impact employees across the country what can you do as a progressive employer to ensure that your employees remain engaged and that you maintain a competitive employer brand proposition?
Offering sabbaticals and, potentially, 4-day working weeks demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being. These initiatives provide much-needed breaks and opportunities for rest and rejuvenation. Employees returning from sabbaticals often come back with renewed energy and enthusiasm, ready to take on new challenges. Similarly, a 4-day working week allows employees more time to spend with their families, engage in hobbies, and focus on self-care. Enhanced work-life balance can significantly reduce stress levels, leading to improved mental health and overall job satisfaction but what impact do they have on the productivity of the business?
Contrary to common misconceptions, shorter workweeks and sabbaticals can actually boost productivity and creativity. In a 4-day workweek setting, employees often experience increased focus and efficiency as they strive to accomplish tasks within a shorter timeframe.
Results of a recent world wide study were clear: Of the 61 companies that entered the six-month trial, 56 have extended the four-day week, including 18 who have already made it permanent.
If your organisation isn’t ready to implement a four day week, offering employee sabbaticals can stand you out from the crowd when it comes to recruitment. Employees on sabbaticals often engage in personal development activities, acquiring new skills and knowledge that can positively impact their work upon their return, but it can also act as a key tool for retaining good employees in the long term.
In a competitive job market, offering sabbaticals and 4-day working weeks can set your company apart from the rest. These benefits act as powerful recruitment tools, attracting top talent seeking a healthier work-life balance and a supportive work environment. Prospective employees are more likely to choose an employer that values their well-being and offers opportunities for personal growth over those that stick to traditional, rigid work structures.
Employee turnover can be costly and disruptive to your operations. By providing sabbaticals and shorter workweeks, employers can foster a sense of loyalty and gratitude among your employees. They are more likely to stay committed to your organization for the long term, knowing they have the flexibility to pursue personal goals while still maintaining a fulfilling career.
An organisation that prioritizes work-life balance and recognizes the importance of personal time fosters a positive and inclusive culture. Employees feel valued and supported, which enhances teamwork and collaboration. A happy and engaged workforce translates into improved morale, leading to increased productivity and better overall performance.
A shorter workweek can have a positive impact on the environment as well. With fewer commuting days, there is a reduction in carbon emissions, contributing to a company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Additionally, a 4-day workweek can lead to a reduction in traffic congestion and support local communities by giving employees more time to engage in civic and volunteer activities.
We would advise seeking advice on drawing up formal policies for sabbaticals and 4 day working weeks to cover legal issues such as holiday pay accrual, working time and rest breaks and Equality Act considerations. Initiatives can certainly be introduced on a trial basis and may well be worth considering particularly if the context for pay reviews is challenged by current economic conditions and you are looking for other ways to retain top talent.
Find out more about this in our latest podcast episode of People Talk at the link below.