Charity Bank is piloting a voluntary four-day working week as part of a six-month global programme exploring how reduced working hours can improve productivity. Our CEO, Ed Siegel explains why a four-day work week is a perfect match for Charity Bank…
The global pandemic has had a profound impact on our working habits and revealed to us a range of ways that we can be more productive whilst also improving work-life balance. Over the past six months, we've worked closely with flexible working experts 'The 4-day Week Global' to fully understand the wellbeing and productivity benefits this initiative could have for our co-workers, customers, and society.
Charity Bank is proud to be the first bank in the UK to reduce its work week from a standard 35 hours to 28 hours for the same pay and benefits. Our colleagues will work four days instead of five, whilst at the same time we will ensure that our specialist customer service is unaffected and continues to be available five days a week.
As an ethical bank we are constantly looking at ways to deliver increased societal impact through our values-driven approach - that's what makes the four-day work week such a good fit for us.
Humans at the centre
People are at the heart of what we do. We care about the people we work with and the communities we serve. Our decision to take part in the four-day work week pilot is based on a whole host of positive benefits that arise from shortening the working week that will improve the welfare of our co-workers in the first instance, and our customers by extension.
Improved productivity, customer service and impact
The four-day working week programme is founded on the belief that we can increase productivity by reducing working hours and working smarter. This is not about compressing five working days into four longer days, or the bank saving on payroll costs by reducing everyone’s hours. The approach we will be piloting expects participants to pursue the “100:80:100” model – continuing to receive 100 percent of their pay while working 80 percent of their contracted hours, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 percent productivity. Needless to say, the achievement of productivity gains is critical to each participant’s success. However, research has shown that these gains are achievable, and are attributable in part to the shorter workweek (and a longer weekend!)
With a meaningful redesign of the way we work, we expect to improve efficiency without affecting productivity whilst enhancing the physical and mental health of our colleagues. In essence, a happier and healthier workforce is more productive and delivers superior customer service which ultimately will help to drive Charity Bank’s growth and enable us to do more for the charities and social enterprises we exist to serve.
Diversity and gender equality
The majority of our co-workers at Charity Bank have caring responsibilities. By reducing the amount of time spent at work, all our employees, regardless of gender, will have more time to fulfil personal responsibilities without sacrificing their wellbeing or pay. By valuing productivity over time spent, we also aim to bridge the gap often felt between full-time and part-time staff, removing any possible barriers to promotion and progression.
We anticipate that the shorter working week will also help us attract a more diverse workforce. We hope that reducing time spent at work across the organisation will encourage people who would have previously been unable to commit to the standard five-day working week to join us.
63% of organisations found it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4-day work week.The 4-Day Week Global
Shrinking our carbon footprint
Work fewer hours to save the planet? A study from the UK’s 4 Day Week campaign suggests that a shorter working week could reduce the country’s carbon footprint by 21.3% per year. If widely adopted this would equate to shrinking the UK’s annual carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking 27 million cars off the road.
At Charity Bank, our vision for a healthy planet is a core aspiration and an important driver behind our business decisions. We believe the four-day working week will complement our current practices and help us to reduce our carbon footprint further through a reduction in the frequency of commuting and by eliminating unnecessary meetings and travel.
Socially conscious, mission driven, values-based banking
Our decision to pilot a four-day week isn’t just about cutting one workday from our weekly calendar. It’s about looking out for the people who work for us and considering how we can align our working habits with the best interests of our customers, society and the planet. The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business. We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity and customer experience.
Charity Bank is not just an ‘ethical bank’, we are a socially conscious, mission driven, values-based bank. Our values compel us to look after our colleagues and this is what led us to participate in the four-day work week pilot. Studies have already shown that an additional day off can improve productivity, increase morale, reduce burnout, increase job satisfaction, and allow for a better work-life balance.
As one of our Board members put it, we believe ‘this trial will put Charity Bank on the right side of history’.
- Customer Q&A: Charity Bank and the 4-day work week
- Announcement: Charity Bank to pilot the 4-day work week
About 4 Day Week Global
Our 4-day week pilot is coordinated by 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit community established by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart who created the platform for people who are interested in supporting the idea of the 4-day working week as the future way of work.
Watch this video to hear Andrews Barnes explain more about the four-day week: Andrew Barnes: The Four-Day Week | TED Talk
By participating in the 4 Day Week Global pilot, Charity Bank will receive training designed and delivered by international organisations who have already successfully implemented a 4-day week, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities to share learnings and experiences. Researchers will also be working with us to establish relevant productivity metrics for Charity Bank which will be measured throughout the trial.
Research and reading:
- Four-day week 'an overwhelming success' in Iceland - BBC News
- Going Public: Iceland's Journey to a Shorter Working Week - Autonomy
- Economics of a four-day working week: research shows it can save businesses money - Connecting Research (reading.ac.uk)
- Four-day week: trial finds lower stress and increased productivity | Work-life balance | The Guardian
- Microsoft Japan tested a four-day work week and productivity jumped by 40% | Microsoft | The Guardian
- Research: Prof. Jarrod Haar - Quantitative Research — 4 Day Week Global – The Future of Work
- Why trial a 4 day week? — 4 Day Week Global – The Future of Work
- Work less to save the planet? How to make sure a four-day week actually cuts emissions (theconversation.com)
About Charity Bank
Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,100 loans totalling over £400m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.
Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.