Will four-day week at Accu help to attract new talent?

Engineering components company Accu, based near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is just about to implement a four-day working week for all of its 80 employees.

The company supplies components to half of the world’s largest engineering manufacturers with turnover predicted to hit £8.4m by the end of this financial year.

The plan is to introduce the four-day week by April. But it is not a move into the dark with unexpected outcomes. The four-day week was initially introduced for Accu's IT staff, and it was so well received that Directors and co-founders Martin Ackroyd and Antony Kitson decided to consult staff on a company-wide adoption of the scheme.

Ackroyd acknowledges that recruitment and retention issues needed to be addressed. Because Accu is based on the outskirts of a small town, it was often overlooked by candidates who sought tech jobs in the bright lights of Leeds or Manchester. But it seems that there is more to life than bright lights and tight deadlines when recruiting and retaining staff. Having tried the four-day-week themselves for the last two years, the directors became confident that it would appeal to most employees.

Employees will be asked to take a three-day weekend with either a Monday or Friday off. The middle days of the week require full attendance so that engineering project work can be done collaboratively. Customer-facing employees will have a rota to ensure that there are enough staff available to ensure an improved level of service to clients.

Ackroyd acknowledges that recruitment, retention and motivation is not always ‘all about the money'. A healthy work/life balance is increasingly important for many employees and some studies have shown that people can often be as productive in four days as they are in five.

For Accu, staff retention and recruitment are critical in achieving their growth targets and Ackroyd predicts that productivity will improve, more staff will be retained and as word gets about, recruitment will be easier, as the four-day week is established.

The good news for staff is that although working hours will be cut to 34 hours per week, current salary levels will be maintained. The projected recruitment target of another 40 staff by the end of the year on the same terms ensures equal and fair treatment for all.

Ackroyd acknowledges that the company “is the sum of our people” and by retaining and recruiting good people in a healthy work environment, they are more likely to meet their growth targets.

Interestingly, because Accu as a company is benchmarked by KPIs, the four-day-week can be measured for its effectiveness and Accu will become a case study for others to consult. Ackroyd also stresses that the decision once made is irreversible because the resulting upheaval would negatively impact peoples’ lives.