Atom bank reveals positive impact of its four-day working week more than six months on
In November 2021, Atom bank took a progressive lead in reshaping the future of work, becoming the largest UK business, and the first UK bank, to move all employees to a four-day working week, with no change of salary.
Atom made the shift in recognition of people having longer working lives, the positive impact of technology, flexible working and the need to live and work more sustainably. The implementation of a four-day week aimed to support employee mental and physical wellbeing, enabling people to enjoy a healthier work/life balance, while simultaneously improving levels of business performance.
Recent headlines have called into question the feasibility of the four-day working week, reporting challenges experienced at some companies who are trialling the new structure. However, over six months on from its introduction, Atom can reveal the clear impact a shorter working week has had on employees, customer service, and operations. Atom hopes these results will encourage progressive businesses to realise that the five-day week is now as unnecessary as permanent office working and the daily commute has become for many.
Impact on employees
One objective of the introduction of a four-day week was to attract and retain talent more effectively and data reveals this has been a success. There was a 49% increase in applications for roles at Atom in January 2022, compared to January 2021, and headcount has grown from 461 in November 2021 to 480 in June 2022, thanks also to a reduction in the number of departures. This has been vital, with the fight for talent becoming fiercely competitive following the widespread adoption of hybrid working following the pandemic.
Contrary to much of the scepticism around the shift, employee surveys reveal that almost all (91%) people can accomplish everything they need to in four days. It is also encouraging to see that employee productivity at the bank has improved, with nearly all (92%) people stating that they have found efficiencies in how they work as a result of the shorter week. This has included streamlining processes and working more collaboratively within their teams to ensure tasks are completed.
Productivity levels have also been measured by each department in relation to business outcomes. These metrics are specific to each of the 10 departments within Atom and measure productivity in terms of business performance and service to customers. For example, in Operations, 10 metrics are measured, including service levels and email responses to customers. The data collated for the six months to April reveals that across all of the 165 departmental metrics tracked, the success rate has in fact improved since the introduction of a four-day working week.
Employees are clearly more motivated working a four-day week too. Almost all (92%) report that they look forward to work, and there has been a significant (13%) year on year increase in people engagement* in February 2022 compared to February 2021 when staff were last surveyed. Days lost to sickness have also declined since the introduction of the new working structure, dropping from 100 in the month of November 2021, to 72 in June 2022.
Impact on customer service
One of the most critical metrics associated with a four-day week is the potential impact it has on the level of service a business is able to provide. Since its introduction, there has in fact been a positive impact on customer service, with Atom’s Trust Pilot score increasing from 4.54 at the start of the new working structure to an impressive 4.82 in June 2022.
Furthermore, customer goodwill* has increased from 83.1% in November 2021 to 85.8% in June this year. Alongside this, there has also been a slight reduction in customer complaints, down from 79 complaints during the month of November 2021 to 73 complaints during April 2022.
What Atom employees have been doing with their days off
“I’ve been using my extra day off to do an advanced motorcyclist course so I can use my extra day off moving forward to volunteer for Northumbria Blood Bikes as a rider, transporting blood from surgeries to hospitals.” – Paul, contact centre team leader
“I spend my day off with the dogs and will usually take them somewhere new. We will get up early to watch the sunrise at the beach, or we will go paddleboarding or wild swimming.” – Leanne, People Experience Coordinator
“The four-day working week has allowed me to spend some quality time with my three year old son Jack. Spending our time in the best soft plays & swimming pools Sunderland has to offer, before dropping him off & picking him up from nursery! Without this day off, I would rarely be able to have this quality time together during the week.” – Jonathon, Telephone Business Development Manager
Anne-Marie Lister, Chief People Officer at Atom, said: “Over six months on from introducing our new four-day working week, it’s clear that it has been a huge success for our business and our people. We are extremely proud of how our employees have adapted and the benefit it has brought to many.
“People are rightly looking for a healthier work/life balance, and despite warnings from some sceptics, our metrics and people surveys show that this has not had a negative impact on employees or customer service. In fact, it has been the opposite, with happier, more efficient, and more productive people who are even more driven to help us change banking for the better.
“Moving to a four-day week has meant a fundamental shift in our operating model and working practice. We did not expect that it would be easy, and knew there would be challenges along the way. That’s why we have adopted the mindset that we need to work hard to overcome these difficulties in order to make the shift work. Our business and people have benefited from this persistence, which is certainly required if you are to challenge traditional ways of working that have been in place for almost 100 years.
“We firmly believe the four-day week is the future of working life and it is encouraging to now see the range of businesses across the UK embracing the four-day week trials. We are a progressive bank and a progressive employer, and our experience in planning for and moving to a four-day week has shown that it is possible for businesses to do this and bring huge benefits to their people.
“We believe most organisations can move to a four-day week and we hope Atom’s experiences will encourage more businesses to make the shift permanently.”
Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “Atom bank’s experience shows that a four-day week with no loss of pay is a win-win for workers and employers. “Companies should embrace the four-day week as a way of boosting productivity, improving wellbeing and to help with job retention.
“The 9-5, 5 day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.”
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