In April 2022, Highgate embarked on a 6-month trial of a 4-day work week. Adopting the 100:80:100 working model, Highgate committed to pay employees 100 per cent salary, for 80 per cent of time, in return for 100 per cent productivity. Highgate continued to remain operational five days a week, using an established buddying system to ensure all work was covered and service levels were met.
With employee wellbeing high on the agenda, the vision was that a healthy work/life balance should be one without stress or anxiety and Highgate set out to see if a 4-day week was the answer to this vision. In November it was announced that this was to be a permanent change.
Now one year on, the 4-day week is comfortably part of the Highgate culture.
Last year, a 4-day work week was starting to gain momentum. There were a few national trials in different countries taking place and initial reports from the early adopters suggested that businesses found the 4 day week to be beneficial in terms of profitability. Highgate’s Sales Director, Bob Sahota explains that this was not the main driver for the shift to a 4-day week, “One of our main intentions when trialling a 4-day week was to improve our employees’ wellbeing and mental health, primarily by giving them some time back, that they can then use however they see fit. Without oversimplifying our results, I think it would be fair to say that we achieved this particular goal. According to our third-party employee wellbeing partner, job satisfaction levels are high, happiness levels are high, and stress and anxiety levels are low. Beyond that it has also had very positive effects on recruitment and retention. We have doubled our headcount in the last 12 months and have not had to use any recruitment partners for this. We have not had any leavers over the same period.”
Clinical psychologists; Ultimate Resilience; conducted an impartial evaluation at the 6 month point and are undertaking another survey to mark one year of the 4 day week being in place to evaluate if there have been any changes to employee wellbeing since the end of the trial. Find out more about their findings here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/bob-sahota_highgate-4-day-week-trial-report-activity-7000464167904145409-rqGp/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop
Highgate have also seen commercial benefits to the change in work week, “Commercially and culturally speaking, the 4-day week has been an success on every level. As an IT reseller, sales is one of our most important metrics. During the last year many of our Account Directors have achieved personal bests, and our companywide performance records have been smashed,” explains Managing Director, Stuart Marginson.
While the 4 day week has been an overall success for Highgate, there were challenges along the way. “We had to up-skill our operations team in new areas to ensure business and customer service levels remained high. This has added significant resilience across the business, especially for unexpected absence and sickness, although that is at an all-time low. Many of the team have had the opportunity to try their hand at other areas of business operations which is now leading to some directional shifts in people’s careers after discovering new interests within other departments,” Stuart continues.
The additional day off each week gave Highgate’s employees the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, spend time doing activities they love, learning new skills or even completing domestic tasks on a day that they wouldn’t usually have the opportunity. All employees have been given back the most valuable thing in life – time.
Adopting this new, ground-breaking working model in the IT industry naturally led to a lot of curiosity around the subject; Bob Sahota explains: “There is one question I get asked a lot, and it’s how do we combat the 4-day week becoming an entitlement? My answer is always the same and consists of two components; our company culture and the very clear expectations we agree with all employees. In terms of culture, everyone that works at Highgate is here because they feel as though they are part of something, they are not just a name or number. Having a strong team connection with everyone being on the same journey together creates a unique bond that is hard to beat. Reference clear expectations, we ask everyone for the same… four good days of up to seven hours. That’s a 28-hour week, which is unheard of in the IT channel (or most industries). When you couple that with the 100% remote working model, it’s hard not to turn up each day feeling grateful.”
The positive impact that the 4 day week has had on Highgate overall is undeniable, not only in terms of employee happiness and wellbeing, but also in terms of personal and business growth.