Focus on productivity, not wellbeing (really!)


Just came across this great article about a company that has implemented a 4 day workweek (which is what we would call a “play” in your Culture Playbook). The crux of success for them? “Focus on productivity, not wellbeing.”

“Barnes says there are a few simple steps to follow to achieve a successful transition, and the cardinal rule is this: Focus on productivity, not wellbeing, when explaining the policy. A four-day week could make employees happier. But, even if that’s proven to be true—and even if it’s accompanied by evidence that a four-day week can improve or at least not hurt revenue—CEOs are always going to worry about how the bottom line will be affected. Barnes says he didn’t try to tell his teams how to work more productively in a contracted week: He asked them to tell him how they’d do it. If they could make a good case, he’d “gift” them a day off every week.”

Note that it’s not about “more output” in a mechanical, traditional sense, but about learning from employees how they can work more productively.

And more:

“Of course, Barnes does talk about wellbeing. His point in emphasizing productivity is that in putting the onus on his teams to agree on their metrics and work out a strategy for achieving goals, he’s putting the power to make the policy work in their hands. The reward is a day off each week, but it’s also potentially a sense of much greater agency.”

Our take? This is a good example of what we argue in our new book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement - that instead of focusing on employee satisfaction and happiness, we should be helping our employees be more successful in their work - and rewards, engagement and, yes, happiness, will result.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

Maddie GrantComment