The implementation of a four-day week aimed to support employee mental and physical wellbeing, enabling people to enjoy a healthier work/life balance, while simultaneously improving levels of business performance.
Recent headlines have called into question the feasibility of the four-day working week, reporting challenges experienced at some companies who are trialling the new structure. However, over six months on from its introduction, Atom says it has seen the “clear impact” a shorter working week has had on employees, customer service, and operations.
One objective of the introduction of a four-day week was to attract and retain talent more effectively. Atom reported a 49% increase in applications for roles within its organisation in January 2022, compared to January 2021, and headcount has grown from 461 in November 2021 to 480 in June 2022, thanks also to a reduction in the number of departures.
92% of employees said that they look forward to work, and there has been a significant (13%) year-on-year increase in people engagement in February 2022 compared to February 2021 when staff were last surveyed. Days lost to sickness have also declined since the introduction of the new working structure, dropping from 100 in the month of November 2021, to 72 in June 2022.
Employee surveys reveal that almost all (91%) people can accomplish everything they need to in four days and productivity at the bank has improved, with nearly all (92%) 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.
Productivity levels have also been measured by each department in relation to business outcomes. These metrics are specific to each of the 10 departments within Atom and measure productivity in terms of business performance and service to customers.
For example, in operations, 10 metrics are measured, including service levels and email responses to customers. The data collated for the six months to April reveals that across all of the 165 departmental metrics tracked, the success rate has improved since the introduction of a four-day working week.
One of the most critical metrics associated with a four-day week is the potential impact it has on the level of service a business is able to provide. Since its introduction, there has in fact been a positive impact on customer service, with Atom’s Trust Pilot score increasing from 4.54 at the start of the new working structure to 4.82 in June 2022.
Alongside this, there has also been a slight reduction in customer complaints, down from 79 complaints during the month of November 2021 to 73 during April 2022.
Anne-Marie Lister, chief people officer at Atom, said, “Over 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.
“Moving to a four-day week has meant a fundamental shift in our operating model and working practice. We did not expect that it would be easy, and knew there would be challenges along the way. That’s why we have adopted the mindset that we need to work hard to overcome these difficulties in order to make the shift work. Our business and people have benefited from this persistence, which is certainly required if you are to challenge traditional ways of working that have been in place for almost 100 years.
“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, said: “Atom bank’s experience shows that a four-day week with no loss of pay is a win-win for workers and employers.
“Companies should embrace the four-day week as a way of boosting productivity, improving wellbeing and to help with job retention.
“The 9-5, 5 day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.”