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Latest in the Region: UK

VC-backed companies under pressure with bleak macro-economic and geo-political outlook

Swedish “buy now, pay later” company Klarna has announced its intention to lay off 10% of its global workforce in a pre-recorded video message. Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski cited “the war in Ukraine unfold, a shift in consumer sentiment, a steep increase in inflation, a highly volatile stock market and a likely recession” as the reasons for the layoffs.

This news comes off the back of a report which emerged last week, stating that the Swedish company’s valuation fell by 30% from the $45.6 billion valuation it received last June.

Even with the decreased valuation and layoffs, Siemiatkowski reassured employees that “Klarna continues to hold a strong position in the market” and says he remains “relentlessly optimistic about Klarna’s future.

BNLP businesses boomed at the start of the pandemic, where lockdowns meant that customers had little else to do with their time but shop.

More than two years on, however, luxuries are just not in the budget of many consumers, and clearly, retailers are feeling the pinch. With ever-increasing fuel costs, utilities rising by 50%, NHI contributions increasing, food prices rocketing, and inflation expected to reach more than 10% by year-end, consumers are tightening their belts. BNLP businesses, such as Klarna, have insights into these sentiments, with their product being used by 17 million people in the UK.

Klarna is not alone in its troubles. Grocery delivery start-up, Gorillas, has also recently announced its intentions to cut 300 jobs – around half the employees at its Berlin headquarters. Gorillas are also looking at pulling out of Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Belgium. According to a TechCrunch report, the company has a large debt to suppliers, with a burn rate of $50 million to $75 million.

More venture capital-backed companies will likely announce layoffs and hiring freezes as they prepare for tough times ahead. Layoff tracker, Layoff.fyi reported that in Q2 of 2022, over 13,000 tech start-up employees had been let go.

Other casualties of the current negative macroeconomic outlook include AI start-up BeyondMinds, which recently closed its doors, and healthtech business Kry’s reduced its team by 10%.

Siemiatkowski admitted that Klarna’s decision to reduce numbers was one of the “hardest” decisions in their history but a necessary move to stay “laser-focused on what really will make us successful going forward.”

“While crucial to stay calm in stormy weather, it’s also crucial not to turn a blind eye to reality,” he added. “What we are seeing now in the world is not temporary or short-lived, and hence we need to act.”

Ken Brotherston, TALiNT Partners CEO also made comment: “The US and European tech markets are very turbulent, inflation is high and the war in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain issues in China all create a perfect economic storm. The impact on employment/hiring is less clear as there are structural shortages in many markets but it’s clear that buyers are spending less and this results in diminished demand for retail staff.”

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Personality over professional and education, reveals survey

A new survey by small business lender iwoca has revealed the most sought-after skills that small business owners look for when hiring new employees and what impacts their hiring decisions.

With small business vacancies hitting record highs at 575,000 (a 72% increase from the same period last year), the survey revealed that more SME owners are looking for personal skills instead of professional ones when hiring.

The top five attributes were:

  • Honesty (44%)
  • Good personality (38%)
  • A skill set that matches the job description (37%)
  • Experience in a similar position (37%)
  • Good at verbal communication (34%)

According to the survey, the least important attribute was an undergraduate degree, with only 6% of small business owners believing that an undergraduate degree is important when recruiting.

When looking at the impact of recruitment on a business, 15% of small business owners believe that poor hires prevent future company growth and a further 11% agree that it leads to fewer sales.

Flexible working arrangements seem to be one way for new hires to meet their potential. Nearly half of the respondents who offer flexible working believed that these arrangements positively affected productivity. Only 7% said that it had a negative impact.

The survey results indicate that millennial business owners are more likely to offer flexible working arrangements, at 43%, compared to older generations, at 35%.

Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer at iwoca, commented: “Small businesses employ over two thirds of the nation’s workforce. Some of the perceived barriers to applying for a job, such as having a degree, might not be as high as some job seekers think they are. Our research reveals the importance of strong personal skills when applying for roles, and the importance of hiring to the future growth of any business.”

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31% of financial services and banking professionals to leave the industry due to pressure

One third (31%) of financial services and banking professionals plan to leave their industry, and a further third (31%) are planning to stay within the industry but leave their current roles, reveals a new report.

According to the study by the digital accountancy platform, LemonEdge,  33% of financial service and banking professionals believe that working from home and hybrid working has increased burnout. Fourteen percent state that burnout has risen exponentially. The study also revealed that 23% of these professionals are worried about physical and mental health.

When asked why workers are planning to leave their positions, the following reasons were cited:

  • Heavy workload (42%)
  • Manual processes (36%)
  • Long working hours (32%)
  • Tight deadlines (26%)
  • Increasing demands from management (25%)

One in six of the financial services workers who were surveyed feel like they can no longer continue or no longer desire to continue in their role within the industry.

When asked what would help overcome burnout, 33% of financial services professionals agreed that a reduced workload would reduce burnout. Time off work (27%), support from management (25%), and faster, more efficient technology (23%) were also popular solutions.

Gareth Hewitt, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at LemonEdge, comments: “An exodus of industry professionals is a sure sign that levels of burnout have reached an unacceptable scale. Any experience of  burnout is serious and with thousands of employees planning to leave the industry as a direct result of high pressure, it should be a clear warning to firms before they risk losing valuable talent.

“The risk of burnout to employers is huge, and there are simple measures firms can introduce to reduce the risk of burnout, making the lives of their employees’ much simpler, easier, and with less stress. Firms need to be aware of the impact absenteeism and presenteeism will have on both their employees and business productivity. Just because you’re working from home, or in a hybrid model, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time off. With one in four (23%) asking for faster or improved technology to eliminate manual processes, firms need to look at their approaches to improve the lives of their staff. In this day and age, technology, not only can but should, provide the automation and flexibility that can contribute to reduced stress, reduced working hours, and lower risk of burnout. At LemonEdge we are passionate about providing the tools and technology that enable financial services professionals to get home on time.”

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UK vacancies up 48% year-on-year

The locations with the highest rates of jobseekers have been revealed in a new study. London, Manchester, Birmingham, and towns on London’s commuter belt topped the list. The study results indicate that as offices reopen and daily commuting re-commence, workers are searching for roles closer to home.

The research by job search engine Adzuna also revealed that every advertised London-based job ad received an average of 65 views during April – indicative of high job churn in the capital city and centre of the Great Resignation in the UK.

Second on the list of jobseeker activity was Manchester, with over nine views for every job listing. Birmingham was third at over seven views per ad.

Edinburgh, Scotland, and Cardiff, Wales, also featured on this list, with view rates of 2.5 and 1.83, respectively. Northern Ireland, however, didn’t feature on the list – possibly showing that the Great Resignation has not reached them yet.

Further findings for April 2022 included:

  • Advertised vacancies in the UK were up 48% year-on-year, to 1,298,581.
  • Over half a million vacancies were on offer across London and surrounding areas.
  • The average advertised salary in London and surrounding commutable areas was £45,515.
  • The average advertised UK salary was £36,587 in April. This is 3% lower than 12 months ago (£37,898).
  • The number of advertised vacancies has exceeded the number of job seekers for the first time.

The study also revealed a growing interest in jobs within commuter towns. Slough and Heathrow experienced the fourth-highest jobseeker activity level. While traditionally, workers in these locations would have commuted into London, they are now looking for jobs closer to home. Job ads, on average, received over four views per posting in these areas.

There was also high jobseeker demand in other commuter towns around London:

  • Chelmsford (2.47)
  • Reading (2.45)
  • Guildford and Aldershot (2.07)
  • Luton (1.88)
  • Crawley (1.87)

The commuter belt towns accounted for a fifth of the list of top 30 UK towns and cities with the highest jobseeker activity.

Looking across the UK, England had the highest activity from jobseekers, with an average of 3.6 views per job ad. Rates were much lower across the rest of the UK with Scotland at 0.26, Wales at 0.11 and Northern Ireland at only 0.03.

Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, comments: “London is at the core of the Great Resignation in the UK, but our data reveals the trend is spreading out fast. In particular, jobs in commuter towns are seeing high interest levels driven by a renewed interest from Brits to spend more time at home. As offices have reopened and commutes have restarted, workers are looking for close to home options that will continue to give them the flexibility they got used to over the pandemic and various lockdowns, be that picking the kids up from school, or simply working flexible hours. The return-to-office is a huge driver of the current high movement between jobs, and companies offering fully remote options, or even much publicised ‘work from anywhere’ policies, are stealing a march on the competition and coming out on top.”

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Despite efforts there is still massive room for improvement in UK management and reporting

In research released today, findings reveal a lack of focus on progressing diversity in the workplace. In the study conducted by SD Worx, it was found that while 68% of UK companies are committed to removing unconscious bias in the recruitment process, many have failed to implement a reporting system to track progress on meeting ED&I objectives.

The survey revealed that only 26% of UK companies evaluate managerial commitment to achieving ED&I-related objectives. A further 32% admitted having no systems allowing employees to report discrimination.

The UK ranked third in its commitment to removing unconscious bias at 68% when it comes to ranking. Ireland ranked first at 74%, with Belgium coming in second, at 69%.

As far as rankings for equal access to training, the UK is slightly lower than other countries, with 64% of companies investing in equal access to training and development. Ireland (72%), Belgium (71%), and Poland (69%) topped the list.

While 64% of UK companies include transparency about ED&I goals and actions to attract a diverse workforce in their mission statement and corporate values, only 60% of the UK companies surveyed said that they promote ED&I in job advertisements, social media, and their websites.

The survey also revealed that countries vary in their level of focus concerning educating and involving managers in their ED&I policies. For example, in the UK, 60% of companies stated that they actively involve their managers in ED&I policies, and 60% provide internal training on the topic.

Colette Philp, UK HR Country Lead at SD Worx commented: “It’s no longer enough for businesses to say they prioritise diversity and inclusion. Instead, they must prove their commitment to achieving a more diverse workforce, both internally within their business and externally to attract talent.”

“There is more awareness than ever before regarding diversity in the workplace and it’s a deciding factor for many when it comes to searching for a role or staying with a business. A diverse workforce brings new experiences and perspectives and an inclusive environment allows individuals to thrive. If businesses aren’t already putting ED&I as a top priority, it’s essential they act now to do so.”

Jurgen Dejonghe, Portfolio Manager SD Worx Insights, added: “It’s important that companies start investing in an active reporting system about their actions concerning diversity, equality and inclusion. On the one hand, that data offers a strong basis for optimising the diversity policy with concrete and consciously controlled actions. On the other hand, such a system also provides clear evidence whether companies are effectively putting their money where their mouth is and not making false promises to (future) employees.”

For ED&I initiatives to be successful, change needs to come from the top, with proper rollouts and reporting system to track their progress.

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Can employers help by scrapping outdated payday cycles?

According to a recent survey over 2,000 British people, one in four people are skipping meals over their rising cost of living worries.

With inflation at record highs, and increasing financial pressure, especially on ‘lower income’ workers, employers are urged to scrap outdated payday cycles which exacerbate stress.

Steve Tonks, SVP EMEA at WorkForce Software commented: “48% of the UK population frequently feel monetary stress, with financial anxiety being a leading cause of poor mental health for three fifths (60%) of employees – with the rising cost of living soaring it is no surprise that the fear of food poverty is growing. With grocery price inflation reaching 5.9 per cent, the highest level since December 2011, it is inevitable that the most affected by these hikes will be low-wage, hourly workers – many of whom are frontline.”

“For these employees, lunar pay cycles can be a particular pressure point– as there can be up to eight weeks of elapsed time between when hours were worked and when payment is received. As a result, many workers are forced into high-interest payday loans to make it through the month- an issue that is only being exacerbated by rising inflation.”

“Earned Wage Access (EWA) is a simple yet highly effective way to improve the employee experience, while helping workers to better manage their finances both in the short and long term.”

“Employers have a responsibility to help break outdated pay cycles, now more than ever. But, EWA shouldn’t just be a ‘nice-to-have’ during times of economic upheaval. Instead, it should be viewed as a long-term CSR goal for organisations, supported by ongoing education and advice on money management.”

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London has the highest hiring demand despite increased cost of living

The latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey has found that employers in the UK plan to increase headcount massively in the third quarter of this year. Based on responses from 2,030 UK employers, the survey looks at intentions for increasing, maintaining, or reducing workforce numbers in the next quarter.

Despite aggressively recruiting in the months post-pandemic, businesses are still struggling to fill vacancies.

According to the survey, UK’s employment outlook has tripled in the last 12 months. The Q3 outlook has reached a new high of +35%. This is a 22%-point increase from the third quarter of 2021.

The survey found that:

  • Banking, finance, insurance, and property are at the top of the list, increasing by 14% since the last quarter to +49%
  • London employers are also the most optimistic, increasing 10% in hiring confidence, moving up to +41%
  • The IT and technology industries are similarly committed to recruitment, increasing by 7% to +49% in the next three months
  • Manufacturing employers are also high on the list – the hiring intent is up by 27% to +38%
  • The hospitality sector was down by 9% to +25%.

Chris Gray, UK Director at ManpowerGroup, says: “These record hiring plans demonstrate the continuation of an employment trend, which sees businesses keeping their feet firmly on the gas, despite the familiar challenges with the UK labour market. Despite a shrinking workforce and with a large proportion of inactive workers, employers are still keen to recruit fresh talent to help them deliver their services, and to surf the wave of growth for as long as possible.

“We are seeing an active labour force confident enough to switch employers in the search for higher salaries, across both permanent and temporary categories. This is being driven by the rising cost of living and the need to chase higher wages to combat a dwindling disposable income. Demand for staff still outstrips supply, so the choice for candidates remains plentiful.

“On the other hand, we are seeing businesses work hard to bring in new talent but struggling to retain existing employees. Companies find themselves caught between a rock and hard place, in an effort to strike a balance between hiring new talent and being mindful of the needs and pressures felt by their existing employees.”

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Verbal communication and teamwork also top of list

A new study on skills in the workplace, commissioned by LMS provider Digits, has revealed the most important skills that workers expect from their managers. Of the 2,048 working-age adults polled, 51% of men and 45% of women agreed that leadership skills were the most important skills for managers.

Next on the list was verbal communication and teamwork, at 35%, followed by empathy at 30% and problem-solving at 29%. Written communication was at the bottom of the list at only 8%.

Just 10% of the respondents did not have any specific skill requirements for a manager.

Ranked by popularity, the most important skills needed by managers are:

  • Leadership skills (48%)
  • Verbal communication skills (35%)
  • Teamwork skills (35%)
  • Empathy (30%)
  • Problem-solving skills (29%)
  • A strong work ethic (21%)
  • Good time management (18%)
  • Conflict resolution (15%)
  • Written communication skills (8%)

Leadership skills include a variety of skills, hard and soft, and the term can mean different things to different people.

Bradley Burgoyne, Head of Talent at Digits, believes that the core leadership skills of a manager include:

  • Vision setting
  • Empathy and listening
  • Inclusive leadership
  • Coaching skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Collaboration skills

When analysed by age, the survey results revealed that opinions on managerial attributes differed depending on where people were in their careers, with 56% of people over 55 believing that leadership skills were the most important, compared to only 28% of 16 to 24-year-olds.

Other important attributes across the age groups were:

  • A strong work ethic is important to 25% of 16 to 24 year-olds
  • Verbal communication skills are preferred by 36% of 24 to 34 year-olds and 44% of over-55s
  • Teamwork skills are very important to 36% of those aged 35 to 54 years old

Burgoyne commented: “We’ve got more generations in the workforce today than we’ve ever had. And, each group of workers prefers slightly different managerial styles and leadership qualities.

“Every individual has their own expectations about how they want their managers to lead them, coach them, support them, relate to them, and empower them. Those skills don’t just happen, even the best managers need to receive regular training and development from their employers.”

“The challenge for HR and L&D teams is to ensure that their training strategy is broad enough to cater to all levels of employees in the organisation because, I think, everyone benefits from leadership or management development.

“It’s important that employers actively listen to their workforce and find out where the skills gaps are – what training do employees think they need? What training do employees think their managers need and what leadership qualities do they respond best to? They can then utilise the data to create training courses or a series of engaging development activities in their learning management system, that are really relevant to the people within the organisation rather than something that could, potentially, be seen as just a tick-box exercise.”

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Businesses called on to look at maternity pay policies and working models

The 2022 Parental Leave Study, conducted by Fertility Family, has found that one in five women are delaying having children due to work. The new study also revealed that half of new mothers need flexible working hours compared to less than two in five fathers. The belief is that flexible working hours would combat the increasing cost of childcare.

The study demonstrated that mothers struggle to balance work and family life after maternity leave. Twenty-four percent agree that maternity leave should last longer. And

As inflation hits new highs of 6.2%, 27% of women believe that maternity pay should be higher. In comparison, 15% of men want higher paternity pay.

The survey of employees at 116 UK companies also found that only 11% of mothers are happy with the parental leave policies at their companies and their company’s support of new parents.

The study also revealed that 21% of women would appreciate longer paid paternity leave for fathers. Fifteen percent of men feel the same. When asked whether working from home was a policy that new parents would appreciate, 46% of men and 44% of women agreed that it would.

With flexible working hours (45%) and remote working (45%) being the most popular wishes from both males and females, companies are called on to embrace employee-focused working models and increased maternity and paternity pay rates.

Gill McAteer, Director of Employment Law at Citation, commented: “Those who feel supported by their employers, and are clear about what their entitlements are, will feel much more comfortable making plans to start a family. Employees who are unsure of their workplace’s policy can often feel disengaged and stressed, which may lead to them putting off plans to have children as they feel like they are not ready.”

“Parental leave policies should be clear on employee entitlements and be available to everyone, with the aim of creating a supportive working environment. For employers looking to enhance their policies, they may consider adopting a family-friendly approach, with flexible or hybrid working, which would be well received by many of those who have families or are planning to do so.”

Lucinda Quigley, Head of Working Parents at Talking Talent, says: “The pandemic has led many people to re-examine their careers, futures and the way they want to work. Any companies not offering the right support and company culture could find their high-talent individuals eschew them in favour of more forward-thinking firms – which will be disastrous for long-term company success.”

“Now is the time for bold and honest conversations. Businesses must be ready to listen and create real change, especially given that the pandemic has transformed people’s thinking about the companies they work for, whilst also shifting family priorities.”

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Half of workers spend time on video calls now than a year ago

According to Asana’s 2022 Anatomy of Work Report, workers in the US are overwhelmed by their notifications with almost two-thirds (63%) of US workers continuously checking their emails outside of work hours — the highest percentage across the board in the international study.

The software company’s research team surveyed workers from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. At 62%, workers in the U.S. were the most likely to report feeling the need to reply to emails straight away. This rate was even higher among Generation Z and millennials. The US participants reported that they’re overwhelmed by the breadth of their digital interactions with colleagues with 34% stating they struggle to respond to important messages, with the rate being even higher for millennials and Gen Zers.

Just under half (41%) of respondents reported that they spend more time on emails now than a year ago with 43% stating that they spend more time on video calls than one year ago.

More than half (52%) reported that more efficient meetings could effectively reduce the number of notifications, and 48% of respondents said clearer responsibilities could also limit the number of notifications. Gen Zers, millennials and those in C-suite roles were most likely to emphasize the importance of well-outlined expectations.

Debbie Walton, Editor at TALiNT Partners commented: “The move to working from home means that there is no option to display an ‘out of office’ or to switch off from work. I have made the decision to remove all work apps from my cell phone so as not to be bombarded by endless notifications after hours. It’s supported a healthier work/ life balance.”

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Talent Solutions

Search engines combine forces to accelerate Adzuna’s growth in the US

On Tuesday, 14 June, Adzuna announced their acquisition of the US job search engine Getwork.

The Getwork team, under the leadership of Brad Squibb, will be working alongside the Adzuna team, intending to accelerate Adzuna’s growth in North America.

Getwork links job seekers with vacant roles at North American companies by indexing millions of verified jobs daily directly from tens of thousands of employer career sites.

Adzuna, with headquarters in London, UK, Indianapolis, IN, and Sydney, AU, uses AI-powered technology to match people to jobs. The company has recently launched in Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, and Mexico. Their operations now cover 20 markets globally.

The two companies will operate as independent brands with their own established communities.

Doug Monro, CEO, and Co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “Adzuna acquiring Getwork will help us supercharge our growth in North America. The Getwork team’s stellar reputation for great service and delivery has led them to be trusted by an impressive roster of household name companies in the US. It’s also a great fit as their team and mission are so aligned with ours. The US enterprise market is crying out for strong alternatives to existing offerings and we’re looking forward to combining Adzuna’s marketing expertise, global footprint and programmatic job matching technology with Getwork’s deep industry knowledge and reputation to deliver even better for our customers. The US is the fastest-growing part of our business and this acquisition will accelerate our profitable growth trajectory.”

Brad Squibb, President of Getwork, comments: “Adzuna is a truly global business, operating across 20 countries, which creates an exciting opportunity for us to scale into new markets with the help of a brand that has already paved the way for international expansion. We can’t wait to join Doug and the team on this journey.”

 

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TALiNT Partners has announced the finalists for the 2022 TIARA Talent Solutions Awards with 22 of the United States’ best Talent Solutions, MSP & RPO firms shortlisted across eight award categories.

The finalists for the 2022 Talent Solutions Awards US, which spotlight MSP, RPO and Talent Solutions providers delivering excellence in recruitment and talent acquisition across the US, are the top of the crop and represent the very best in providers in the industry.

Ken Brotherston, Chief Executive of TALiNT Partners made comment: “Following the inaugural TIARA Talent Solutions Awards US last year, I am delighted to see many of our 2021 finalists return to celebrate their achievements, as well as a number of new entrants this year. The 2022 Awards are a true celebration across the market, from the large global players to newer entrants and niche RPO organizations, all demonstrating excellence in their impact for employers and their own employees.”

“The TIARAs are distinguished by the rigor of its judging process and the quality of its judging panel,” he added. “Entries will be assessed by our esteemed judges through six key metrics: excellence in delivery; innovation; DE&I impact; sustainable value; business growth; and purpose.”

What sets the TIARAs apart from other awards programs is their independent panel of expert judges and individual feedback given back to each finalist.

The judges for this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards are drawn from the HR and Talent Acquisition community are:

  • Sachin Jain, Senior Director – Global Talent Management, PepsiCo
  • Andrew Brown, Director RPO and Recruiting, Cornerstone
  • Russell Griffiths, General Manager, Coleman Research
  • Rich Genovese, Global Head – Talent Identification & Discovery, Jazz Pharmaceuticals
  • Gregg Schneider, Senior Manager – Procurement Plus, Global Talent Marketplace and Innovation Lead, Accenture
  • Justin Brown, Talent Acquisition Project Manager, Gallagher
  • Chris Farmer, Global Program Owner, Salesforce
  • Kerri Arman, Former VP Global Head of Talent, American Express Global Business Travel
  • Saleem Khaja, COO and Co-Founder, WorkLLama
  • Fitzgerald Ventura, CEO, 1099Policy
  • Mike Wilczak, Chief Product Officer, iCIMS

Judges will convene in May to debate and decide the winner of each category Award as well as an overall Talent Solutions Provider of the Year. All winners will be announced at an exclusive virtual awards ceremony on Thursday June 9th, 18:00 EDT.

Winners will also be profiled in a special TIARA Awards supplement published with TALiNT International.

The TIARA 2022 campaign is supported by our headline partner Cornerstone, and sponsored by WorkLLama, 1099Policy, and iCIMS.

The full list of TIARA 2022 Talent Solutions Finalists can be viewed here.

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Trials indicate increased productivity and employee wellbeing
Approximately 30 British companies will be taking part in a four-day work week trial has been launched in the UK as part of a global pilot organised by governments, think tanks, and the organisation ‘4 Day Week Global’. During the pilot, it’s said that employees will be offered 100% of their usual pay, for 80% of their time, yet maintaining 100% productivity. Studies have shown that the four-day week can boost productivity and employee wellbeing.
Harriet Calver, Senior Associate at Winckworth Sherwood, says that the four-day work week is not a new phenomenon. Many employees in the UK already work a four-day week, however, this is typically agreed on a case-by-case basis between employee and employer following a flexible working request. It tends to be accompanied by a corresponding reduction in pay, except in the case of “compressed hours” in which case the employee is simply squeezing the same number of hours into a shorter week.

BENEFITS FOR BUSINESS 

Gill Tanner, Senior Behavioural Scientist at CoachHub, believes that one of the key advantages is that employees would benefit from a better work/life balance and an extra day on the weekend would mean staff would have the opportunity to realise other ambitions outside of work and spend more meaningful time with family and friends, engage in more exercise or find a new hobby – all of which result in improved mental and physical health and higher levels of happiness. And this will result in less burnout and reduced levels of stress.

But in what ways could the reduced working week benefit employers? Improving employee happiness and well-being has many potential commercial benefits for employers such as increased performance and productivity, reduced absenteeism, recruitment and retention; and it could have a positive effect DE&I.

POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS

Gill Tanner believes that completing five days’ worth of work in just four days could be more stressful for some. Employees will need more focus and have much less time for lower productivity activities.  Additionally, some employers and businesses may find the four-day week detrimental to operations. For example, a decline in levels of customer support on days staff aren’t in the office. So, careful thought needs to be given to how this might be executed.

According to Harriet Calver, if an organisation is asking for 100% productivity from employees in consideration for a reduction in working hours, it is going to be critical to have the right support, technology and workplace culture in place to enable this.

Although the success of the four-day working week model relies on employees doing fewer hours, there is a danger that there may not be enough hours in those four days to complete the work. Therefore, working hours could creep up to previous levels if the workload is the same, resulting in longer and more stressful days for these employees.

In customer facing businesses, a potential pitfall of the four-day working week is not being able to properly service customers leading to poor customer satisfaction. For example, if an organisation shuts its office on the fifth day, when it was previously open, customers may complain they cannot access services when they want to, or previously could. Whilst this could be a potential issue for some organisations, it should be overcome fairly easily by most simply by keeping the business open for five days a week but staggering the days which employees do their four days so the entire week is still covered.

According to Gill Tanner, employers should consider the following before implementing a four-day week:

  1. What are your reasons for implementing a four-day week?
  2. Consult with employees and other stakeholders regarding a four-day week. What are their thoughts? How might it work?
  3. Provide clarity regarding what is expected in terms working hours, performance levels, days off, remuneration, ways of working etc.
  4. Ensure there is sufficient coverage to run the business as is required and to have continuity.
  5. Think about the situation from the customer/client perspective (and other stakeholders) and how they might be affected
  6. Consider the communication plan: who needs to be communicated to and by when?
  7. Reflect on your current company culture.  Is it one of trust and ownership, values that are key to this kind of working? If not, is it the right time to implement such a big transition?  Are there other steps you need to take first?
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