Crowe adopts nine-day fortnight for staff in Australia

04 September 2023 3 min. read

Following what is described as a successful six-month trial, professional services firm Crowe has become the first network of its kind in Australia to permanently adopt a nine-day fortnight for its employees.

Accounting and consulting network Crowe has become the first large professional services outfit in Australia to institute a permanent nine-day fortnight, with its 340 local staff to receive every second Friday off.

The new working regime follows a six-month trial conducted by the firm over peak audit season, during which employee turnover fell by 10 percent. Moreover, the model led to improved engagement and well-being.

Crowe adopts nine-day fortnight for staff in Australia

The flip-side to the additional day off is longer working hours across the remaining days as an offset – known as a compressed work week – which 85 percent of Crowe’s employees expressed an interest in participating in through an earlier internal survey. The pilot then ran through the middle of the year to stress-test the feasibility of the model during busier workloads, and delivered a range of benefits while seeing productivity maintained.

In addition to enhanced engagement, health and well-being, employees lauded the new-found flexibility and better work-life balance the trial provided, with both the opportunity for more downtime and leisure or to attend to personal errands or appointments during ordinary office hours.

In a tight labour market, the broader benefits also extend to Crowe as a means of retaining and attracting staff, including parents returning to the workforce.

Broader adoption within Findex

Indeed, the success of the Crowe trial will now see it extended to other arms of its parent firm Findex, which has a headcount in excess of 3,000 spread across more than 100 locations throughout Australia and New Zealand. First will be a flexible working trial among a number of professionals in Findex’s wealth division in various locations around the country, after which the firm will assess the feedback and make adjustments tailored specifically to the industry.

“At Findex, we pride ourselves in our human approach to the traditionally transactional nature of the financial services industry and this of course extends to how we look after our team’s well-being,” said chief people officer Kath Nell. “We took onboard the feedback from the team and explored how the compressed work week could be implemented meaningfully and effectively, and we are extremely pleased that it is now being expanded to other areas of the business.”

Another important factor the firm had to consider when entrenching a shortened fortnight at Crowe was client needs and response, with Findex co-chief executive Matt Games explaining that it was ultimately concluded the positives of the entire staff taking the same day off outweighed the minor inconvenience to clients in being unable to contact the firm once every two weeks – although there will still be measures in place to address any urgent matters.

And despite the talent recruitment advantages afforded by the new policy, Games would also like to see Crowe’s competitors follow the firm’s lead (Grant Thornton has also been trialing the model) and establish a nine-day fortnight as an industry norm, stating: “I believe employers can and should introduce flexible work options … It’s not all about work gains. It’s about overall gains. And when people are in a better place, they certainly work better.”