"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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