For most metrics measuring human progress (ranging from GDP-per-capita to life expectancy), we’ve never had a better life; yet a surprising number of individuals in high-income countries (most notably in the Anglo-Saxon world) feel miserable at work (where we spend a third of our adult life).

The reasons are manifold and hard to address for traditional companies: purposeless jobs, punitive hours, dreadful commutes, “always-on” culture, increased competition, constant infighting, to name just a few. The takeaway: Businesses that do not offer purpose and flexibility will not be able to retain talent. Small and adaptable has an advantage over large and less elastic…

These issues are at the core of what subjective wellbeing is all about. The example of the New Zealand financial services company Perpetual Guardian (that switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week while maintaining their pay) has now been extensively researched.

It shows not only that productivity increased, but also that subjective elements such as commitment, stimulation and empowerment went up significantly (by roughly 20 percentage points) while stress-levels went down (from 45 percent before the four-day policy was put into place to 38 percent after). The evidence of a “win-win” (it’s good for employee wellbeing and good for the business bottom line) is so overwhelming that the policy should be embraced and emulated by the wellness industry. After all, if this industry doesn’t set a wellbeing example, who will?!

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