Employees got more sleep and felt less stressed in a trial of a four-day working week.
Barry Prost, who runs Rent a Recruiter, says it offers a "competitive advantage" for small firms.
Prost told Insider that employees were happier, but he still works on Fridays.
A trial of a four-day working week in Ireland found that workers got more sleep, felt less stressed, and spent more time exercising and volunteering.
What's more surprising is the positive response from employers, with the businesses that participated in the experiment planning to retain the working pattern.
Twelve companies cut back working hours with no reduction in pay as part of a six-month trial conducted by the Irish trade union Fórsa, Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin, and Boston College.
According to polls conducted at the end of the trial and published this week, 100% of employees wanted to maintain the reduced working schedule. All participating companies have also signaled their intention to do so.
Barry Prost is co-founder of one participant, the recruitment outsourcing firm Rent a Recruiter. He told Insider the reduced work week offered small businesses like his a "competitive advantage" when hiring talent.
Before the trial, it had a staff turnover rate of 20%. "We were losing staff to bigger companies, so we felt we had to do something quite bold," said Prost.
Rent a Recruiter couldn't match the salaries offered by bigger companies. Prost said the company wanted to find an affordable "transformative benefit" that could be a "key differentiator" in a battle for talent – and a four-day work week fits that bill.
Rent a Recruiter has retained all two dozen employees in the six months since bringing in a four-day week. Prost told Insider that internal metrics showed a rise in employee satisfaction and a 50% increase in average productivity.
To maintain productivity and client satisfaction as they shifted to a four-day work schedule, Rent a Recruiter had to make "some really important discussions about productivity and prioritization," said Prost. It got rid of unnecessary meetings and emails that could "interrupt workflow."
Rent a Recruiter also introduced the four-day week in tandem with a switch to full-time remote work.
"Because we were moving out of the office, we wanted to combat any potential feelings of isolation or loneliness," said Prost. "Reducing the working week means that people can really focus on their work for four days, then switch to socializing in their three days off."
Prost told Insider the company's profits have also risen during the trial: "Everyone got on board quite quickly and pushed in the right direction because they all wanted to retain this great benefit."
Nevertheless, Prost admitted the arrangement was "not perfect."
As a managing partner, Prost has not adopted a four-day working week. He told Insider: "The directors have to pick up the slack on Fridays by answering the phones and meeting with clients."
Overall, though, he is positive about the future of four-day weeks: "I like the idea of challenging the norms and trying to have a real positive impact on people's lives, so I'd encourage other companies to look into it and see if they can make it work for their business."
Read the original article on Business Insider