Companies turning to 4 day work week to support employee mental health

More companies are turning to a four-day work week to try and support employees’ mental health after a tough two years and the idea is gaining traction across the world, including in Winnipeg.

Over 200 companies across the world are taking part in the four-day-work-week trials this year, according to 4 Day Week Global. 

Brandish Marketing in Winnipeg has begun this approach by taking Fridays off. The ability to get work done has not changed and the quality has only been improving, according to Co-founder Derek Elliott.

The company’s stats show a 35 percent increase in recorded happiness, 15 per cent increase in ambassadorship (meaning people are more likely to recommend the job) and a 30 per cent increase in employee wellness.

“We have seen no drop in our efficiency, productivity, subjectively and maybe even objectively our work is getting better,” Elliott told 680 CJOB last week.

The company just marked one year of taking Fridays off.

“We initially tested it over summer months and what we found was there was a really big positive impact on our team so after testing it we decided to make it official.”

The idea was starting to become more common around 2019 and then the pandemic turbocharged the move, according to Joe O’Connor with 4 Day Week Global.

“Workers are demanding this more because of people’s expectations around what’s a reasonable balance between life and work. What people’s priorities are in terms of the value they place in having more time for family, for community, for caring, the pandemic has really radically altered all of those different things” he said.

However, while there are many benefits to a four-day work week, it is not feasible for every company and every line of work.

“If you’ve got front-line sales, retail, customer support functions within your business of course that model will not work,” said O’Connor.

What employers may do in those scenarios is deploy different shift patterns, different rosters and different schedules.

Employee burnout has increased and mental health has declined, according to a survey from The LifeWorks Mental Health Index in July.

The latest report, which surveyed 3,000 people, revealed 74 per cent of respondents reported feeling some impact from work or personal stress.

This stress is not just being felt by employees but also by managers. At the height of the pandemic, people in management positions expressed more work stress.

Additionally, mental health in the workplace us becoming a bigger conversation, and four out of five managers surveyed said they’ve had to address and support employees’ mental health throughout the pandemic.

“Right from the very beginning, business leaders really saw that this is a risk to the health and well-being of their people, and therefore a risk to their business,” said Paula Allen with LifeWorks Research.

“So we had more investment in training of managers, more investment in services supporting employees to sort of chip away at the stigma of talking about mental health issues in the workplace.”

— With files from Global’s Sam Thompson

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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