Unilever to trial four-day working week in New Zealand

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Unilever South Africa

Consumer goods giant Unilever will trial a four-day working week in New Zealand to enhance worker wellbeing and boost productivity.

All 81 workers will be eligible to work for four days on full pay, New Zealand Managing Director Nick Bangs said in a statement Tuesday. Most of the staff are based at Unilever’s Auckland headquarters and distribution center after the company closed manufacturing operations in 2015.

“The old days of working are outdated and no longer fit for purpose,” said Bangs. “Our goal is to measure performance on output, not time.”

The trial, which starts this month and will run for a year, is limited to New Zealand at this stage. Unilever will work with Sydney’s University of Technology Business School to measure results, and will explore the possibility of what it could mean on a broader scale. The company employs 150 000 people worldwide.

The company intends to share lessons from the trial with other New Zealand businesses.

Bangs said momentum for a four-day week has grown after the Covid-19 pandemic led to an upheaval of standard working practices.

“Maintaining competitive edge, increasing productivity and improving wellbeing sit at the heart of the four-day week,” he said. “This is about removing the barriers that limit value creation and slow us down.”

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