When most businesses think about productivity, they assume employees need to work harder and longer. But data from recent reports and studies shows the exact opposite.
SteelHouse CEO Sees Positive Return
In December 2016, Mark Douglas, CEO of the marketing and advertising company SteelHouse, sat down with his team and held a meeting to discuss the holiday schedule for the following year. While his employees thought it a little strange to call a meeting to discuss holiday scheduling that tends to be the same each year, they didn’t think much of it. Until he announced that the company would be observing one three-day weekend per month, that is.
So, how did it work? Well, a year later and Douglas is sticking with the company-wide rule. He says the policy led to huge increases in morale, energy, and productivity.
“Douglas’ philosophy has been to trust people to manage their time wisely,” Chris Weller writes for Business Insider. “Giving people an extra day off five months out of the year to take trips – which are often financed by the $2,000 allowance – helps create a give-and-take mentality that SteelHouse respects employees, who in turn respect the company.”
Happy Employees are More Productive Employees
While three-day weekends have certainly helped SteelHouse increase productivity, they may not be conducive to every company. The key is for business leaders to find out what’s effective in their organizations.
When trying new things, businesses should focus on making employees happy. Because, as one research study shows, happy employees are more productive.
The study, which used 700 people, chose individuals at random and showed them a 10-minute comedy clip while also providing snacks and drinks. After following up with a series of questions to ensure that they were indeed “happy,” participants were then asked to perform tasks that measured their levels of productivity.
“The experiment showed that productivity increased by an average of 12%, and reached as high as 20% above the control group,” Fortune notes. “By way of comparison, Dr. Daniel Sgroi, the author of the report, noted that in regards to GDP and economic growth, ‘rises of 3% or so are considered very large.'”
The most obvious explanation as to why the SteelHouse three-day weekend policy works so well is that it allows tired employees to refuel and refocus.
“There is a lot of research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources,” reports Allison Gabriel, who studies job demands and employee motivation. “When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”
When employees are able to refocus, happiness becomes less elusive. This drives a chain reaction in which productivity increases, the job becomes more fulfilling, and situational factors become less bothersome and more enjoyable.
This is a conclusion that Taskworld, a leader in productivity, has also found to be true. They work closely with project management teams and have discovered that they all face seven common pain points. By addressing these pain points head on, they’ve improved team member morale and simultaneously increased organizational productivity for their clients.
More Companies Explore Unique Perks
By no means is SteelHouse’s three-day weekend policy the most unique or creative – it’s just a recent example that reiterates the benefits of having happy employees.
Other companies with cutting-edge policies include Netflix (no official work hours), Glassdoor (unlimited time off), Facebook ($4,000 in baby cash after child is born), and Starbucks (free college tuition to an online program). All report solid gains in employee satisfaction and productivity.