By: Lindy Laird

Whangarei panelbeaters are the latest to follow the four-day working week trend.

Kevin Hurley, who with his wife Nicky owns Tony Gordon Panelbeaters and Auto Painters, said his workshop team voted unanimously to trial working four 10-hour days a week.

It could be the first panel and paint shop in New Zealand to try a longer day, shorter week system.

Hurley said the longer days were compensated for by the workers having an extra day for family life, leisure or projects.

Some of the five panelbeaters could have stuck with the five-day week if they chose.

”We gave them the choice. As far as the business and customers go we’re open the same hours as ever and offer the same services, but we see this as being a way for the staff to get the most out of their private lives.

”It costs me a little more in holiday pay and a few extras but it’s minimal really, and the staff are happy. It’s about them.”

One of the advantages of the longer working days is that customers get their vehicles back sooner, Hurley said.

Because of the earlier start on Monday mornings, for example, some people choose to drop their cars off on Friday afternoon to ensure their job gets the full 10-hour day, and finished the same day.

Workers have already given the scheme the thumbs up, but it is officially on trial until Christmas. The trial might not stop there either.

”If it all works fine we’ll carry on and we might even tweak it a bit, maybe look at alternating weekends to two days one week, four the next,” Hurley said.

As well as the workers agreeing to the change, Hurley had to run the idea past the Collision Repairs Association, which was not aware of other member company doing the same.

”I guarantee that within six months there’ll be more doing this. I think the whole of New Zealand should go on to this.”

Perpetual Guardian trialled a four-day working week across New Zealand this year and it was so successful the boss wanted to make it permanent.

The firm, which deals with wills and trust funds, conducted the eight-week experiment in July. Its 240-strong workforce, in 16 offices across the country, retained full pay alongside a three-day weekend.

Andrew Barnes, chief executive of Perpetual Guardian, said he had recommended the board continue the policy after an analysis revealed a “massive increase” in staff satisfaction with no drop in productivity.

To ensure an objective analysis, Barnes invited academic researchers Jarrod Haar, a professor of human resource management at AUT and Dr Helen Delaney, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School, to observe the impact of the trial on the workforce.

“What we’ve seen is a massive increase in engagement and staff satisfaction about the work they do, a massive increase in staff intention to continue to work with the company and we’ve seen no drop in productivity,” said Barnes.

Source: Northern Advocate

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