Ontario CEO tests four-day work week for employees, says she won't go back

The founder of an Ontario company that tested out a four-day work week for her employees says she will never go back to working a full week. 

Jamie Savage, CEO and founder of Toronto-based recruitment company The Leadership Agency, implemented a four-day full work week for employees in October 2020.

Savage said she noticed during the pandemic that her employees were burnt-out and she wanted to help them improve their quality of life. 

"We needed to make some changes," Savage told CTV News Toronto Wednesday. "I thought, why don’t we just do a four-day work week. Let’s try it."

Savage said her nine employees still receive the same pay and number of vacation days per year. 

"The truth is that it was instantly impactful on our business," she said. "The immediate impact was their wellbeing."

Savage said her employees were using the extra time off to relax, attend fitness classes or even attend therapy sessions. 

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She said the result was that her employees came to work feeling less overwhelmed and were able to carry out their job much more efficiently. 

Savage said she understands many companies fear implementing a four-day work week out of fear of loss productivity, but ultimately the benefits outweigh the risks for her company.

She said her employees are happier, more productive and are not leaving for other companies.

"It's not necessarily doable for everyone," she admits, adding that it would be hard in certain industries. 

She says for her company, the benefit of the four-day work week "outweighs everything else in the end."

"The fact that we are able to do this means a lot of other companies can to. The more that we share and talk about it will help encourage other companies as well."

When asked if Savage would ever consider going back to a traditional five-day work week, her answer is pretty clear.

"Never," she said. "We're even looking at ways to further enhance our employee wellbeing. I will make it my mission to continue to set us apart from the rest."

Iceland made news earlier this year after sharing the result of a study into shorter work weeks. 

Researchers found that working fewer hours per week for the same pay was an "overwhelming success."

The trials run by Reykjavík City Council and the national government saw worker wellbeing "dramatically" increase across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance.

Researchers found that productivity and services stayed the same or improved across the majority of workplaces.

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