Today’s guest blogger is John Francis, firstname.lastname@example.org, president and senior managing partner of Theonera, Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada). Theonera is a boutique recruitment firm specializing in engineering and software professionals and sought-after senior managers. Theonera has been a member of NPAworldwide since 2011. John shares his thoughts on a flexible work schedule below.
More CEOs need to look at introducing a 4-day work week
Throughout my 25-year career as a recruitment and retention professional I have known people who are constantly stressed at work. The stress they feel filters down through their life and embeds itself into every aspect of it. There are many stressors today — information overload, work demands, family care, finances, fear of missing out, career stagnation — each one piles unto the other to cause excess stress.
There are further work-related stress actualities in this day and age. We are in the widest working age range in history. At the workplace today, each generational cohort brings their own style, beliefs and expectations with them and this clash of cultures is real and causes tension. Another stress enhancer is something that will always be a constant in corporate culture: the pressure to produce. When this pressure is cranked up, the end result is an environment of increased stress and lower self belief and control over what you do.
Is there a solution(s) to this unhealthy environment? If we were to listen to a recent report (2018) from the insurance company MetLife, some 71 percent of employees say the answer lies in a flexible work schedule. Having a more malleable schedule would help them immensely in releasing the tension and stress levels that they deal with daily. For this to become an actuality a company must first embrace a philosophy of flexibility. Without a CEO’s buy in, it won’t work. This brings me to a real-life example.
Embracing a Flexible Work Schedule
Andrew Barnes is the CEO of Perpetual Guardian and he has fully embraced a flexible work schedule. Now Andrew’s company is not some new start-up and Andrew is not some twenty-something CEO. In fact, Perpetual Guardian is in a very conservative industry (finance) and Andrew just happens to be a leader who is in the prime of his career.
I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew on my podcast Work Passion Fit (Sept. 12, 2018) and we discussed his implementation of the four-day work week (working 30 hours and getting paid for 40 hours). His employees have the flexibility to work the hours they want. It may be five shorter days or four days instead of five, but the result has been greater productivity, healthier and happier employees, longer tenures and an overall positive work environment.
Andrew has become somewhat of an international celebrity and proponent of his four-day work week, but at the core of his innovation are some straightforward principles that any CEO can implement. He listened to his employees and their concerns, he was flexible, he embraced inclusivity, he championed an emphatic culture, he wasn’t afraid to become a leader in this space and he wholeheartedly embraced change. During my podcast I still vividly remember Andrew telling me how one of his employees came up to him and thanked him for giving him his life back. That is what gave him the greatest pride as a CEO.
We need more CEOs like Andrew Barnes. We need more CEOs to create a workplace that enables employees to contribute their best as life and work overlap.