Four-day work week at The Leadership Agency yields happier staff, increased profit

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There’s a lot of talk about creating hybrid work situations in the wake of COVID-19.

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One entrepreneur has already gone ahead and done it.

Jamie Savage, CEO and founder of recruitment specialists The Leadership Agency, has established a four-day work week for her company.

And she did it a year ago.

By October 2020, Savage could see that her staff was experiencing pandemic burnout.

She met with her business partner, COO Elizabeth Tufegdzich, to talk about making changes that would help all their employees and suggested trying out the shorter work week.

“She said, ‘Let’s do it. We’ll make this happen!’ And we did,” Savage said.

Two days later, the plan was in place.

“That’s the beauty of a small business,” said Savage, who has nine employees at the head office in Toronto. “You have the ability to be fluid and try new things.”

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The shorter work week showed almost immediate benefits, including appier staff and increased profitability.

It’s not magic. Savage had time management training in place for all concerned and made sure everyone was on the same page — staff, clients, and candidates.

A four-day work week, allows people to take care of things in their lives, maybe to just go to the dentist, but it really gives them the opportunity to invest in themselves.”

She adds, “It’s all about the well-being of our employees.”

There was no trade-off for the shorter work week. Nobody’s salary decreased and no one sacrificed any vacation time or anything else.

The four-day work week is not an isolated benefit. Since the company started, they’ve always had half-day Fridays, with staff leaving at 2 p.m.

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Making Friday a full day off seemed like a logical move.

A few weeks ago, Savage and Tufegdzich made a few more changes for the company.

They’ve instituted three new paid leaves, over and above the three weeks annual holiday everyone gets, as well as the additional two weeks off every year when the company closes over Christmas.

The first two paid leaves are a six months salary top-up to dads taking paternity leave, and five universal days off.  

“They’re not ‘sick days’ because we want to remove the stigma of mental health issues,” said Savage.

“If you’re experiencing anxiety or need an emergency therapy session, you know, it’s no questions asked. There’s no sick note required. Need a day? Take a day.”

The third new paid leave is an extended bereavement policy, which Savage says came partly out of personal experience. She had a miscarriage earlier this year and is grateful she was able to stop and recharge for a few weeks after such a loss.

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“Imagine if you didn’t have that.”

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The unique culture at The Leadership Agency is something Savage has worked hard to establish over her 15 years in what she calls “the people business.”

“We’re in the world of recruitment. Everything we do revolves around people — our team, our clients, our candidates. You have to be flexible about what people need.

“When you put your people first in a people-centric business, they take that and put others first too.”

She’s excited to share the success story of her company’s four-day work week.

“We know about start-ups. We’re a women-led company. Sometimes our voices aren’t heard, so the more people speak up in the start-up community, the louder our voices are.”

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