Global consumer goods giant Unilever will be experimenting with a four-day working week for all its New Zealand employees from next week. The company said all 81 staff members at its offices across New Zealand will be able to participate in the trial.
The trial will run for 12 months until December next year. Unilever said the employees will be paid for five days while working for just four days.
"The aim is to change the way work is done, not increase the working hours on four days," Unilever New Zealand managing director Nick Bangs said. He added, " We don't want our team to have really long days, but to bring material change in the way they work".
After 12 months, Unilever will assess the outcome of the move and look at how it could work for the rest of its 1,55,000 employees globally.
Unilever has no manufacturing unit in New Zealand and all the staff are in sales, distribution, and marketing.
A shorter working week has been debated for a while in New Zealand with financial services company Perpetual Guardian making headlines last year for pioneering the idea and declaring it had seen big increase in productivity. The company had claimed a 20 per cent rise in productivity. The stress levels dropped by seven percentage points, whilst work or life balance scores increased from 54 per cent to 78 per cent, according to the company.
This year, New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern herself suggested employers consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options to help employees address persistent work/life balance issues.Another of the trailblazing trials into the four-day week was carried out by Microsoft Japan. With the trial conducted last year, Microsoft said productivity rose by 40 per cent rise and electricity costs fell by 23 per cent.