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A four-day working week? First maybe measure employee wellbeing

Within the debate of moving to a four-day working week, Australian companies need to measure and understand employee wellbeing. 

Sunil Vohra, co-founder of the world’s first independent and standardised index for measuring organisational culture, The Workability Index, highlights how critical it is for Australian businesses to move to measuring wellbeing as a key metric.

“At the heart of the debate about a four-day working week, there is clear intent to elevate discussions of structural change in how we legislate, solve and measure the wellbeing of employees”, Mr Vohra stated.

The discussion of reducing working hours has been well documented across the globe, primarily due to Sanna Martin, the Prime Minister of Finland, who is a supporter of flexible working hours. While her comments are not formal government policy, they have sparked a global debate about the trade-off of working hours and employee wellbeing.

Such reduced working hour trials have taken place in Sweden, France and Japan in recent years.

Mr Vohra explained: “The traditional 38-hour week was legislated in Australia nearly 40 years ago. However, only 36 per cent of Australians actually work within the traditional 9-5, five day working week.

“The Australian workforce is working longer hours. This is in part due to increased expectations of productivity and competition. The blur in working hours has also been enabled by technology which allows the ‘always on’ expectation to become the norm.

“Given increased time spent on work commitments, we have reached a tipping point that demands a more clearly defined relationship between working conditions and employee wellbeing.

“A four-day working week might be impractical for most businesses to adopt – but what every business can do is measure their current employee’s wellbeing. From this learning, companies can look to make corresponding changes to reflect or improve their wellbeing rating – which might include flexibility around the hourly working week.”

The Workability Index is the new standard for corporate culture, ensuring that all stakeholders connected to the organisation can quickly and easily understand current performance against the respected index.

Read similar: Is flexible working destined to become the new norm?

Mr Vohra continued: “There is this growing movement to redefine the metrics of success. Historically, countries have determined success by economic measures while companies have done so by revenue and profit. However, the increase in demand for non-financial metrics could lead to structural change within organisations in how we determine success.”

“Increasingly for business a range of stakeholders – customers, investors and future employees – want to know more than just financial figures – they want to know about your culture. Previously there has been no publicly available evidence to compare or benchmark against.”

As well as wellbeing, The Workability Index framework measures across 10 critical dimensions of culture: Risk Culture, Trust, Future Workforce, Advocacy, Community, Leadership, Organisational, Inclusion and Engagement.

TWI, which launched early December 2019, has published the initial index of the combined culture scores of member organisations. The current benchmark index for Australia is 615 / 1000.

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The Workability Index is a Melbourne-based culture tech start up offering businesses the world’s only standardised, evidence-based benchmark metric for assessment and reporting of organisational culture.

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