Global consumer goods company Unilever will continue with its four-day working week for all New Zealand staff after encouraging results from its 18-month-long trial.
The trial, which ran between December 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022, involved all 80 staff and showed strong results against business targets, including revenue growth and most staff reported feeling engaged, Unilever NZ revealed today.
Individual wellbeing improved, with stress dropping 33 per cent. Feelings of strength and vigour at work increased 15 per cent, while work/life conflict fell 67 per cent.
Absenteeism also dropped 34 per cent.
Stakeholders and partners also took to the trial favourably, with 100 per cent agreeing that the New Zealand team completed work on time and to high quality.
Unilever NZ said there was no end date for its four-day week in New Zealand, but will schedule regular check-ins to measure that it’s still running to everyone’s benefit, with the next check-in in a year.
Staff will retain 100 per cent of their salaries, while working 80 per cent of the time, and still committing to 100 per cent delivery for the business.
Cameron Heath, Unilever New Zealand managing director, said the four-day work week is an extension of Unilever’s commitment to a performance culture that drives triple bottom impact: people, planet and profit.
“We know our learnings will be useful at a time of change in the workplace, particularly as New Zealand moves through the headwinds of the pandemic, and as businesses embrace new and exciting ways of working,” he said.
“A high-performing business requires thriving people, and the need to attract and retain passionate talent is more critical than ever. It’s imperative for us to continue to deliver superior business performance, while also meeting the evolving needs and expectations of our thriving workforce.”
Professor Bronwen Dalton, Head of the Department of Management at the University of Technology Sydney Business School, which monitored and measured the trial, said the trial helped to create an evidence base that can inform ongoing research.
“The trial produced successful, independent measurements,” she said. “Through rigorous, in-depth academic research, we have produced a robust, multi-level data set that can be used to further refine the initiative over time.”
The largest four-day work-week trial, The 4 Day Week Global, is already well under way, spearheaded by New Zealand-based businessman and founder of Perpetual Guardian Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart.
The pilot programme is being launched at different stages in the UK, US, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. More than 20 companies from Australia and New Zealand are taking part in the trial, which began in August and is due to end in January.
Barnes made headlines in 2018 when he introduced a four-day work-week at his financial trust firm after turning an experiment into company policy.