Wanted urgently: South Africans to work a four-day week on full pay

  • A “pioneer pilot” for a four-day week is now recruiting in South Africa.
  • His executives will even help you convince your boss to try it, and then help your boss convince his board that it was a good idea, if necessary.
  • Employees receive 100% of their current salary for 80% of their current time.
  • A four-day work week is well suited to South Africa’s problems like load shedding and unemployment, the promoters say.
  • For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A coalition of South African organisations, including Productivity SA, is now recruiting a ‘pioneer pilot’ in 2023, when employees at participating companies will work 80% of their current hours for 100% of their current salary.

Those companies, say proponents of the plan — and a growing number of researchers — can expect to still be able to perform at 100% of their current levels while saving money. They can also help to solve unemployment, make life easier for single mothers and help reduce climate change, among other things.

If your boss needs convincing of all this, the local 4-day-a-week organization will be happy to help. And then it wants to help your boss convince the board or an equivalent regulator that the change should be permanent.

From today’s experience, that shouldn’t be difficult. One of the world’s biggest four-day workweek trials in the UK just hit half-time this week. Of the 70 participating companies, 86% already plan to maintain the four-day schedule when it ends, citing the same benefits commonly reported in such experiments: happier people, better outcomes, and lower costs.

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See also | A massive four-day workweek trial in the UK is going really well, companies say

“I would argue that this isn’t rocket science,” Andrew Barnes, author of The 4 Day Week, said in an introductory webinar on Wednesday. “If you have a more engaged, empowered, and focused workforce, they will outperform one that doesn’t.”

Barnes and the local partners, who work with his global organization that promotes the four-day concept, say typical arguments against the idea have all been crushed in court cases. Manufacturing companies have recognized the benefits of reduced hours, as have organizations that charge by the hour, such as B. Law firms.

For some, the benefits manifest themselves in fewer sick days, which means fewer costly temp workers. Other companies have lower staff turnover and lower recruitment costs.

In South Africa, Barnes says, the power accident makes it particularly appealing to squeeze more work into less time, so that “when the load shedding happens, you’ve actually made up that time.”

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As for unemployment, one thesis is that the four-day workweek encourages some companies to hire more workers, using the money they save in overheads from a compressed workweek.

Other benefits include reducing travel – and the resulting pollution – by a fifth, and relieving South Africa’s high proportion of single mothers, whether by reducing their childcare costs or by simply allowing them to breathe easy.

The trial is due in February, but the registration deadline is in October

In South Africa, the 2023 study is set to be supported by non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, co-founded by Barnes, with Stellenbosch Business School doing research on its impact.

Now the 4 Day Week SA Coalition needs participants.

It will take some money, says 4 Day Week Global co-founder Charlotte Lockhart, to pay for the workshops, mentoring and other related support — but not a lot of money. It will also take time, for example collaborating with researchers – but not much time.

In return, each participating company will receive “a confidential impact assessment specific to each organization” based on productivity and worker well-being metrics established prior to the start date. That’s handy, “when you have executive teams and boards, you have to persuade,” says Lockhart.

At the other end of the ladder, ordinary employees who need to convince a CEO or executive to take the plunge may face a half-open door, says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, program director at 4 Day Week Global.

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In other countries, the organization sometimes finds that “company leaders are pushing this because they want it for themselves. CEOs, entrepreneurs, they face exactly the same challenges of overwork and burnout as everyone else.”

The registration deadline for the first local pilot is the end of October, so preparation and onboarding can begin in November. Baseline metrics will be set in January and February 2023. Then, between February and July 2023, the participating companies will reduce the required working hours by a fifth and see what happens.

How these companies do it, who works what days, will depend on discussions between managers and workers. It seems difficult, but when everyone is motivated, it usually turns out to be not that difficult, Barnes says.

“If you think about it, if you’re trying to solve all the problems in the C-suite [among top executives]what you will find is that you make excuses,” he warns.

But if you let individuals figure out how to do what they need to do—and how to stop doing things they shouldn’t—it generally works out fine.

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