Bank declares four-day week a win-win

An app-based bank in the UK has declared its trial of a four-day working week to be a "huge success" both for its employees and for its business.

4-day work week symbol
Atom Bank - the first digital-only challenger bank to be granted a full UK regulatory licence - says the shorter working week, which was introduced last November, had improved productivity and job satisfaction, and had made staff recruitment and retention easier.
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'A huge success'

The bank, based in Durham in NE England, is not part of the world's largest trial of a four-day working week, involving 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies, which only got underway in June this year. The trial, which is being coordinated by campaign group 4-Day Week Global, think-tank Autonomy and academics at Oxford and Cambridge universities and Boston College in the US, has recently attracted criticism from some bosses struggling with rota problems. But Atom says it has encountered no such difficulties.Anne-Marie Lister, Chief People Officer at Atom, said: “More than six months on from introducing our new four-day working week, it’s clear that it has been a huge success for our business and our people. We are extremely proud of how our employees have adapted and the benefit it has brought to many.“People are rightly looking for a healthier work/life balance, and despite warnings from some sceptics, our metrics and people surveys show that this has not had a negative impact on employees or customer service."In fact, it has been the opposite, with happier, more efficient, and more productive people who are even more driven to help us change banking for the better."

Better talent retention, recruitment and productivity

The Atom report said that one objective of the introduction of a four-day week was to attract and retain talent more effectively. Since the start of this year, the bank has seen a 49% increase in job applications, resulting in the company's headcount increasing from 461 to 480. Days lost to sickness have also seen a significant drop since November and a survey showed that 92% of employees said they now looked forward to going to work. The same survey also showed that 91% of staff were accomplishing as much during their four days as in a five-day week."Productivity at the bank has improved," reported Atom, "with nearly all people stating that they have found efficiencies in how they work as a result of the shorter week. This has included streamlining processes and working more collaboratively within their teams to ensure tasks are completed."The trial is based on staff being offered the chance to move from a 37.5-hour working week spread over five days to 34 hours spread across four days for the same salary.

'The future of working life'

Ms Lister added: "We firmly believe the four-day week is the future of working life and it is encouraging to now see the range of businesses across the UK embracing the four-day week trials."We are a progressive bank and a progressive employer, and our experience in planning for, and moving to, a four-day week has shown that it is possible for businesses to do this and bring huge benefits to their people."We believe most organisations can move to a four-day week and we hope Atom's experiences will encourage more businesses to make the shift permanently."Joe Ryle, director of the 4-Day Week Campaign in the UK, described Atom's experience with a four-day as "a win-win" for both workers and employers.“Companies should embrace the four-day week as a way of boosting productivity, improving wellbeing and to help with job retention," he said. "The 9-5, five-day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.”

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