Perpetual Guardian, a financial services company in New Zealand, became the first privately-held company to change its work model to give its staff members a paid day off each week. It all began with an eight-week trial in March 2018 involving all 240 of its staff around New Zealand. This four-day workweek trial was aimed at testing motivation, productivity, and output, while other employment conditions remained unchanged. As a result, employees worked for 30 hours each week, but they were paid for 37.5 hours while maintaining the same amount of output.
Founder Andrew Barnes felt that it was the right thing to do after finding out that New Zealand was among the lowest-ranked OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. When employees are engaged with their job and employer, they become more productive. The findings showed that employees’ leadership levels increased by 18%; commitment levels went up by 20%; stimulation improved by 18%, and employee empowerment increased by 20%. Furthermore, staff stress levels went down from 45% to 38% after the implementation of the four-day week model.
The freedom for employees to spend more time with their families led to significant improvements in work-life balance. Due to the positive results, Perpetual Guardian initiated the Four-Day Week on a long term basis beginning from November 2018. Since then, Perpetual Guardian has been overwhelmed with more than 350 requests for data about the trial. Despite the immense success, Barnes and his team are continually identifying ways to raise productivity and improve engagement, wellbeing, and job satisfaction within the work model.