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An Expert Says These 8 Steps Will Help Canada Move Towards Having A 4-Day Workweek

"I have yet to hear of bad results during the trial stages - this might mean that a 'utopia' isn't as far away as we might think," Andrea Bartlett said.

With some companies and municipalities testing out or permanently implementing a four-day workweek in Canada, an expert has revealed eight steps that can help move the country away from the Monday to Friday 9-to-5.

Narcity spoke with Andrea Bartlett, who is the human resources director of Humi, an HR software company that supports Canadian businesses, and she said that companies will have to take charge of setting up a four-day workweek that's best for them. However, policies around a shorter workweek would need to be implemented by governments for there to be "real change."

Recently, Bartlett noticed a popular action that companies are taking and that's implementing an optional, modified workweek where employees can opt into the trial and see its impact themselves. "I have yet to hear of bad results during the trial stages - this might mean that a 'utopia' isn't as far away as we might think," she said.

Here are eight steps that need to happen so Canadian companies and other employers can move towards implementing a four-day workweek.

Leadership buy-in

Bartlett said that the first step in moving forward with a four-day workweek is to ensure the leadership team is aligned with trying out what a four-day workweek would look like for their company. It's not just about the employees being on board, everyone needs to be willing.

Test group

Having a test group is a key step. It needs to happen for a certain amount of time, with clear expectations, metrics and reporting in order for it to be better understood what a four-day workweek could look like.

Employee participation

Next, Bartlett said employees need to be given the option to participate in the test group so that there's transparency and accountability.

In Iceland, two trials of a four-day workweek were hailed as "an overwhelming success" with employees noting improvements in their work-life balance and wellbeing.

Reporting

Allowing employees to report their experiences while testing a four-day workweek is important so that factors such as improved engagement and mental health can be assessed.

In Ontario, the township of Zorra has been testing an alternate workweek where municipal employees are able to take Mondays or Fridays off each week. Don MacLeod, the township's chief administrative officer, told Global News in July that during the eight months of the trial there were "no complaints from staff or the public."

Contingency planning

There also needs to be a contingency plan in place for companies that are trying this out.

"It's important to ensure leadership is aligned with the HR department and an action plan is in place if employee satisfaction increases, while business results change," Bartlett said.

Depending on what the results of the trials are, staffing and hiring changes might need to be made.

Research

Next up is research. Bartlett said it's "fundamental to the success of implementing a four-day workweek." A research partnership will help ensure the right data is being collected to assess the performance of the trial.

Checklist

According to Bartlett, creating a checklist on what a four-day workweek will look like is a key step because there are questions that need to be answered before launching an alternative work schedule.

That could include things like how it will change company policies, what it means for employment contracts, what the expectations of working days are, and whether the whole company be required to work the same days.

Decision making

The final step is decision making which Bartlett called "the most important step."

If a company is going to implement a four-day workweek, it needs to be decided if it's permanent or temporary and then communicate the timeline and process with employees. If there was a trial, it's important to share the results.

"Whether or not the company chooses to move forward, it can have impacts on [its] retention if this final step isn't properly planned for," Bartlett said.

After the success of the trials in Iceland, 86% of the country's workforce now either works shorter hours or can reduce their hours if they want to.

Here Are The Pros & Cons Of A 4-Day Workweek In Canada According To An Expert

The prospect of a better work-life balance vs. quality of work possibly being hindered.

When it comes to what a four-day workweek in Canada would be like, an expert spoke to Narcity about the pros and cons that are associated with a different type of work schedule.

Andrea Bartlett, human resources director at Humi, a HR software company that supports Canadian businesses, noted that there are differing interpretations of a four-day workweek: a 40-hour workweek compressed to four days, a 32-hour workweek in four days with no change in salary or a modification of the expected hours to be worked per week.

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Leo Bruce Hempell | Dreamstime, Wouter | Unsplash

Every weekend is a long weekend for employees in Canada testing a four-day workweek! Towns and individual companies across the country are trialling the change and in many cases, it seems to be going pretty well.

Back in 2020, the Nova Scotia municipality of Guysborough began testing out a four-day workweek for employees in the town. Per the schedule, approximately 60 municipal employees took either Monday or Friday off every week.

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The results of four-day workweek trials in Iceland are in and the experiment was "an overwhelming success" with improvements in work-life balance and wellbeing.

From 2015 to 2019, the country had two trials where people worked a reduced workweek of 35 to 36 hours and had no pay reduction. It was such a success that now 86% of Iceland's workforce either works shorter hours or has the right to reduce their hours.

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