The Four-Day Working Week at Happy

Happy are advocates of the four-day working week, where full-time staff work for 80% of their hours for 100% of their salary - as long as they are still 100% as productive. This has been a huge success at Happy, with great benefits across people's wellbeing and work/life balance.

Find out more below about how we started with a four-day week in August 2019 before voting to make the four-day week permanent in 2022.

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How Did Happy Implement the 4 Day Week?

Productivity summer

The four-day week started with a Productivity Summer, with a four-day week during the summer months. We first did this in August 2019 with a four-day week for just one month (giving an extra three days of annual leave, pro-rata).

In September, we voted on how everyone thought it went. The verdict was that 94% enjoyed the extra time off, and 53% said they got as much done in four days, though 31% felt it made them more stressed. However, 44% of staff said they'd like to do it again and 44% wanted to make it two months.

In 2020, the senior leadership team extended the Productivity Summer to seven weeks including the bank holiday, giving everyone an additional six days of annual leave, pro-rata. Productivity Summer continued in 2021.

I'm more focused and feel good about sticking to my hours – I don't feel guilty, while before I would feel that if I was not carrying on over my hours to complete some work sometimes. I'm sure that made me less productive!Feedback from our 4 day week survey in December 2022

Making the four-day week permanent

With Productivity Summer giving staff a taster of what a four-day week could look like, Happy's people voted to make this a permanent change. The vote was 16-1 to go for a permanent four-day week, as long as the initial six months were successful. Happy joined the national 4 Day Week trial from June 2022, alongside over 60 other UK organisations in the pilot.

This was a huge success and in December 2022, our people voted to make this permanent. The results of the survey that informed the decision to go permanent showed:

  • 77% of staff were sticking to the 32-hour week, with 23% working only one or two hours over
  • Everybody says they are getting as much done as they did before
  • Everybody says their wellbeing is better

The main requirement of the change to the four-day week was that it would not impact on the service our clients received. In fact, Happy had 10% growth in sales in 2022, with no increase in staff.

I have a day off in the middle of the week and it really helps me decompress. Working days can be intense and having a break in the middle of the week means I can step away from it and come back to work, calmer and more compassionate.Feedback from our June 2023 staff survey

How did we ensure the four-day week was a success?

All of our people agreed to new principles, set by an Action Group (a small group of staff who expressed an interest in making the 4 day week a success, including the Managing Director). 

This included agreeing to improve our productivity, such as reducing the length of meetings, being more focused and cutting out distractions.

All of our people were offered training and support, such as an internal Five Day Productivity Blitz training course.

Rather than all taking the same day off, teams decide internally which days they will work. This ensures cover for our clients. The only requirement is that people must work on Tuesdays.

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