Grant Thornton institutes 9-day fortnight following successful trial

29 May 2024 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read

Professional services firm Grant Thornton has adopted a permanent “nine-day fortnight” in Australia following a successful trial which demonstrated increased productivity and retention. 

Grant Thornton has been piloting the reduced working week for the past twelve months, which grants its workers an extra day off across a typical fortnight with no loss of pay should they have met certain objectives.

The firm says the initiative has received an overwhelmingly positive response, with 94 percent of staff surveyed having been in favour of retaining the “nine-day fortnight” on a permanent basis while citing a range of benefits.

Grant Thornton institutes 9-day fortnight following successful trial

Among those personal improvements, 85 percent of the participants believed the additional day off – or “recharge day” – had enhanced their well-being, while a similar number said the nine-day fortnight had positively influenced their desire to work at the firm. For Grant Thornton, the numbers bear out the sentiment, the trial coinciding with record levels of productivity and an uplift in staff retention.

“It’s fantastic to see the results of our trial are in line with many of our expected outcomes and continue to reflect our values and purpose to support our people, clients and communities to thrive,” stated CEO Greg Keith. “We hoped that by improving our people’s well-being they would give that extra discretionary effort for our clients and we now believe that to be true: happy people do great work.”

Grant Thornton also noted the initiative had driven changes in work behaviours, with 70 percent of those surveyed indicating they had sought out new ways to be more efficient to allow them to take advantage of the opportunity for an additional day off, an incentive and benefit shared among the team. This included greater automation of tasks and a reduction in meeting lengths and unnecessary attendance.

Challenges

However, the drive to meet workloads in a shorter time-frame highlighted one caveat and limitation of the program; the perk is a reward rather than entitlement, and as such is impacted by personally extrinsic factors such as seasonality, client demand, the field of practice, and other colleagues within a team. Uptake rates have sat at around three quarters of staff taking a day off only once per month.

“We feel there is still a lot of work to do to ensure recharge time is equitable across all service lines,” Keith stated. “This is a huge change management piece, and we are the first to say we haven’t quite nailed it yet as we need to keep the trial mentality and explore ways to ensure the time is more fairly accessed. It is a work in progress but our people want it and it is definitely worth striving for.”