I say give it a go. Trust company Perpetual Guardian will trial a four-day working week, with no reduction in pay, for six weeks next month. The aim is to see if productivity remains high, with the potential to increase. If the trial proves successful the four-day working week will become permanent from July 1. Now that's what I call thinking "outside the box".
There won't be many employers prepared to test the waters on this new idea but Perpetual Guardian's founder Andrew Barnes is right when he says the 40-hour, five-day working week with weekends off, is historical. It's the traditional employment model we've all grown up with that's been around for decades. It's time to examine the number of days worked to see if they can't be improved for the benefit of both the employer and employee.
I like that the company acknowledges employee work-life balance is important. It believes if it can support staff to get this right then productivity remains high. It also knows younger employees live very different lives today from older workers. The younger workforce want a life outside of work.
Lately years when interviewing prospective job applicants I sometimes wonder "who's being interviewed here?". Young job hopefuls don't wait to get their feet under the desk, it's straight into terms and conditions, the details. "Are the hours flexible? Will you work in with my childcare arrangements? What ongoing training is provided? What are the organisation's values? Work-life balance is important to me, how do you support staff in this area?"
Recently a young 20-something couple new to Rotorua wasted no time in looking for work. Within a week both got jobs. However they wanted to have the same two days off each week so looked around at other jobs until they got what they wanted. And that only took another three weeks. They were upfront with prospective employers. They told them the hours they wanted to work and both settled for finishing their working week on Saturday, starting again on Tuesday afternoon. They are both hard working, enjoy their jobs and leave town most weekends to discover the Bay of Plenty and other parts of the central North Island. I suspect if they couldn't get work on their terms they would have moved on. They knew exactly what they wanted and what they were prepared to accept.
Mr Barnes said with technology and artificial intelligence threatening many jobs, a shorter but more productive week would allow businesses to get the most out of their workers.
Of course there will be a raft of employment issues that will need to be considered if the trial shows there is overwhelming support for the four-day working week. But it's a conversation worth having.
Employers across the board may have to be more flexible if they want to hire and retain young ambitious staff. It is probably something they have not thought seriously about in the past but I suspect "these are the hours take it or leave it" might one day soon be a thing of the past.
Many young people have seen their parents' generation conform to often drab fulltime jobs. They consisted mostly of workers in long-term, stable, fixed-hour work with established pathways of advancement. There was unionisation and collective agreements. You recognised and understood job titles and many worked for local employers who were household names within the district. Young workers show no desire to follow the same route.
Mr Barnes is on to something. He is interested in taking a new approach to business success. He is looking at the role technology might play in creating new business innovations, and in using it to retain and create jobs. He understands that creative and enterprising workers gravitate to organisations that see them not just as job takers but job makers. If working a four-day week supports creativity and innovation why wouldn't you want to trial it?
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a Rotorua district councillor, Lakes District Health Board member and chairs the North Island Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart political correctness.