One of Australia’s biggest health insurance companies is preparing to trial a shorter working week for employees.
Medibank is gearing up to become the latest company in Australia to trial a four-day working week for its staff, labelling the time off a ‘gift’.
At the end of October, 250 Medibank employees will move to a 100:80:100 model, or 100 per cent of pay, in 80 per cent of the time, at 100 per cent productivity.
The trial will span six months after which it will be re-evaluated and then scaled to the wider organisation of nearly 4,000 staff.
Aussie health insurer Medibank is preparing to roll out a trail of a four-day working week for its employees (stock image pictured)
The insurance company has described the time off as ‘a gift’ for employees (stock image pictured)
The move follows other major Australian companies such as Oxfam and Unilever.
Bunnings has also offered a four day work week, but staff will still have to work 38 hours within the shorter time period.
The four-day work week is a global push to change long-entrenched working hours with success already seen in other countries like Sweden, Spain and Belgium
Medibank’s full-time employees will receive one full day off while part-time employees will receive time off on a pro rata basis.
The insurance company has described the time off as ‘the gift’.
‘I think it’s important that it’s seen as a gift,’ Chief customer officer Milosh Milisavljevic told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘It’s a privilege, not an entitlement, because it does need work to realise and ongoing work to maintain, and the teams really resonated with the gift.’
It is understood several teams across the organisation, including frontline customer service, have begun participating in workshops to assess their workload and eradicate low-value or time-consuming tasks such as meetings and emails.
The shorter work week is one of several initiatives under way at Medibank collectively titled ‘Work Reinvented’, which is aimed at challenging traditional work practices while boosting productivity.
Mr Milisavljevic said a high number of employees expressed interest in participating in the trial but Medibank chose to keep it on a smaller scale before expanding it out to the wider organisation.
‘A lot of the teams trialling the four-day week are the ones that were really early adopters in the broader Work Reinvented experiment,’ he said.
‘They’re already in a cadence of questioning how work happens, testing different things, and so they were a bit more ready to dive into some of the complexity and the opportunity of the four-day week.
In May, retail giant Bunnings announced a trial of a four-day work week or a nine-day fortnight
‘It’s not the best for us to actually start to jump in with ideas and suggestions. The process is set up to allow the teams to design it themselves, discover and learn themselves.’
Medibank’s trial follows an announcement in May from Bunnings, owned by Wesfarmers, to trial different work models, such as a four-day week or a nine-day fortnight, in a first for the retail industry.
Anti-poverty organisation Oxfam Australia is believed to be the first company in the country to trial a 30-hour week, which will be implemented in March next year.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said ‘human capital is at a premium’ and companies need to explore different models that promote a good work culture’.
Last November, Unilever, maker of Australian household staples, Dove, Rexona, Surf, Omo, TRESemmé, Continental and Streets, announced it was expanding the 4 Day Work Week trial to its Australian business, following an 18-month trial in Unilever’s New Zealand operations.
In December 2020, Unilever New Zealand adopted a four-day workweek in a successful trial which ran for 18 months.
The New Zealand pilot found 67 per cent of employees reported better work-life balance, while stress fell 33 per cent and absenteeism fell 34 per cent, all while meeting business and revenue targets.