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Innovation Action: Manpower SEE implements 4 days working week for all employees in South East Europe

Manpower SEE announces the implementation of 4-days working week for all internal employees in Serbia, Bosnia&Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia after the successful preliminary pilot project that lasted for 4 months, which showed a positive impact on employees wellbeing and productivity.

Henry Ford, the legendary carmaker introduced 5 days (40 hours) working week and made Saturday and Sundays off for his employees in 1926. After almost 100 years, it is time for changes.

In the light of resignations, talent shortage, employee burnout, and a profound impact on lives of people during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in the popularity of flexible policies and therefore employees want and demand changes in the working practices. Thus, employers have begun to consider the idea of the four-day workweek.


 Key highlights:

  • The 4-days working week underwent a 4-month trial period, which was very successful.

  • Manpower is legally implementing 4 days working week, covering all cost of fees, contributions, and benefits for the employee to the state as it did before the decrease of hours.

  • Manpower employees from all countries in SEE region report high level of engagement and well-being in the Work & well-being Survey results, which was performed after the implementation of 4 days working week.

  • Work and Wellbeing survey shows 89% of employees feel that their work-life balance is better now, than it was before the 4-day work schedule.


The reason for the implementation:

4 day working week is representing a novelty in the world labour market and a way of working that could directly respond to the new needs and trends of the business and people, while the moving forward trend could have also a greater social and ecological dimension. The idea behind a 32-hour workweek is to achieve the same results in fewer hours so people have more time to spend time with their families and loved ones and have more time for personal priorities.

As Aleksandar Hangimana, the Managing Partner of Manpower SEE, states:

"At a time when human capital is becoming more important and valuable, we have the honour and responsibility not only to take care of our employees and processes, but also the employees and processes of a large number of domestic and global companies. By our example, we show that our "storyDOING” policy is more dominant than "storytelling". We are looking forward to share the experience of the four-day project and other legal entities to bring the labour market of South East Europe closer to the most competitive European markets.


Pilot project:

The 4-days working week was first tested in a 4-month trial period.  Each country has prepared a local plan to establish the changes in the operational processes. Duty shifts on Fridays were organized in each country to enable the business processes to run smoothly for all our partners and clients. After successful trial period, we are formally moving to a new timetable of 4 days.


Work & well-being Survey:

To examine the impact of a 4-days schedule on the Manpower SEE region employees, we have conducted a Survey with the goal to assess:

  • Work & Wellbeing of employees

  • Ability of handling the workload

  • Employee satisfaction and retention factors

  • Work and life balance


Results show very positive impact on employee wellbeing and engagement

Manpower employees report high overall results (4,92 out of 6) on the Work & well-being scale, that measures 3 important aspects related to well-being and engagement of employees: vigour, dedication, absorption. The highest result was on the dedication aspect (5,2) that is represented by statements such as: “I am proud of the work I do”, “My job inspires me” “I am enthusiastic about my job”.

This is a strong and significant result, that is even more important in this year, when several research are showing increased burnout and poor well-being of workforce all over the world. Harvard Business School study shows that more than 85% of employees said their workplace well-being declined since the start of COVID-19. The problems, to name a few: increased job demand, disconnection, and disengagement. (Macaulay Campbell and Gretchen Gavett, 2021).


Work-life balance improvements

Work & well-being Survey shows one third of employees (31,7%) report being very satisfied, almost half of employees (45,7%) report being satisfied and the minority of employees’ report being neutral (16,9%) and dissatisfied or very dissatisfied (5%).

89% of employees fell that their work-life balance is better now, than it was before the 4-day work schedule.


Impact on Employee retention

The retention factors in the Work and well show that employees agree to strongly agree to be proud to be a part of the company and would recommend it as a good employer to their friends and family.

What is interesting is, that while employees report that they were considering sometime in the past to quit the job to pursue other opportunities (41% agree), respondents now report high confidence in seeing their future within the company (91% agree to strongly agree) and reporting feeling higher satisfaction that they did 1 year ago (more than 75% of employees agree to strongly agree with the statement).


An Equal Workplace

4 days’ workweek is a shift towards gender equality. The gender pay gap starts to expand after women have children. By the time a child is 12 years old, the gap is 33%, according to the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies. A big part of the reason women are paid less than men is that they often work fewer hours after children are born, as they have to prioritize childcare over an intense full-time career.


Smaller Carbon Footprint

Manpower's commitments are to reduce operational emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 60% and supply chain emissions (Scope 3) by 30% by 2030. These validated science-based targets are a key part of Manpower's ambition to reach net zero by 2045 or sooner.

Shortening our working week means that employees don’t need to commute as much and therefore use less fuel, while employees could also make more environmental decisions, as 4-days working week can free up the time.


Legal Implementation

Manpower is covering all cost of fees, contributions, and benefits for the employee to the state as it did before the decrease of hours. While the employees work 32 hours working week, from Monday to Thursday, salaries stay overall the same, as do the benefits and further salary increases.


About Manpower SEE

Manpower South-eastern Europe is a part of global organization Manpower, which is a world leader in innovative workforce solutions with 80 offices around the globe.

With offices in Serbia, Bosnia&Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia it has a great regional presence and helps companies transform themselves in this rapidly changing world with innovative human resources services – search and selection, psycomentric testing, development of talents, skills other HR services.


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