Central to the success of any business are its people. A motivated, valued team will work hard and espouse the values of your business. The desire to look after its people is what prompted Frank Taylor & Associates (FTA) to review their working week and offer individuals the option of switching to a nine-day fortnight. Lis Hughes, Managing Director of FTA, discusses the change and the benefits it brought.
The pandemic forced us to change our working practices, and having done so, many of our staff preferred the extra flexibility they had to juggle their work and personal lives. We realised it would be demotivating, restrictive and frankly naïve if we just expected everyone to return to the office to a the previously normal five-day week seamlessly. It was really born out of wanting to support our teams post covid.”
Lis continues, “We did a lot of research and spent a lot of time consulting with our teams. After all whatever change we made had to work for them. Naturally it was essential that service levels wouldn’t be adversely impacted, and we spent a lot of time planning for that so that, ensuring cover levels were always sufficient and that everyone was aware of theirs and their team’s responsibilities. We began with a three-month trial of a four-and-a-half-day week, with the promise of a ‘no-faults’ cessation if either side (management team or staff) it wasn’t working!”
“Within a month we realised that a nine-day fortnight was a better option than a four-and-a-half-day week. Schedules for cover and service were easier to manage, there was greater continuity throughout the day with staff and on a personal level our staff felt they could better enjoy the benefits of an extra day off every fortnight than a half day ever week.”
“Of course, we had to set out a few ‘rules of the road’, but these were well received and adopted. Firstly, we felt it essential that specific days were allocated and could not be changed, and without this rule managing and maintaining our cover schedule would have been almost impossible. Secondly, the days could not be accumulated and deferred to build up extra leave (annual leave entitlements remained the same anyway) and lastly that if there was a specific business need, for example to cover sickness or other absence, for an individual or a team to work, then the additional day would need to be forfeited”.
“Feedback has been very positive”, reflects Lis. “It was clear in our recent performance appraisals that staff appreciated the benefits of an extra day each fortnight and so positively was the change received that in many areas service levels improved. More generally it has encouraged better planning and collaboration across the organisation as we all recognise the benefits the extra day gives us all”.
Georgia, Client Manager at FTA, said “The nine-day fortnight has been such a benefit to the team! It is such a relief to have that extra time to be able to get things done that you cannot necessarily do on a weekend, and I certainly find I am more productive within the days in the office!”
Lis concludes, “Of course this isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and the demands of the business will set the parameters of what is and isn’t possible. I’d say the most important stage was the consultation, as it’s there you understand what is and isn’t possible across the teams and get a sense of everyone’s appetite for the change. We’re already thinking about whether we can take the next step to a four-day week”.