This is why Leeds-based recruitment firm Gilbert Meher is switching to a four-day week

A recruitment agency is set to switch to a four-day working week in a bid to boost productivity and improve staff well-being.

Jonny Stewart, director at recruitment agency Gilbert Meher in Leeds, which is switching to a four-day working week. Picture: James Hardisty.

Leeds-based Gilbert Meher, which has 33 employees, will roll-out its four-day working week from next Monday onwards.

Director Jonny Stewart told The Yorkshire Post that the business has been examining the potential for working fewer days for the past three months and two weeks ago decided to launch a six month trial.

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“Clearly if it doesn’t work for our business then we’ll go back to five days but we’re confident that that won’t be the case,” he said.

Jonny Stewart, director at recruitment agency Gilbert Meher in Leeds, which is switching to a four-day working week. Picture: James Hardisty.

The reason Mr Stewart is confident of the new work patterns being a success is down to the nature of the recruitment industry, which he says is very “outcomes focused”.

The director added: “The discussions with staff show that the majority of people will take Friday off and work Monday to Thursday.

“We’re requiring people to be in on a Monday because that’s when we hold our agenda setting and management meetings.”

Aside from Mondays, staff will be given flexibility as to what day they would like to take off. The business won’t enforce the four-day working week on staff, allowing employees to work five days if they wish to do so.

Jonny Stewart, director at recruitment agency Gilbert Meher in Leeds, which is switching to a four-day working week. Picture: James Hardisty.

The business has amended its work hours by half an hour. Other than that Mr Stewart feels that staff members are capable of completing their work within the four days.

“Proactive recruitment is usually from Monday to Thursday,” Mr Stewart said. “Fridays are a lot about tying up loose ends.”

He added: “People are exceeding targets. Last year about 80 per cent of the people hit their revenue target. Could a lot of them do it in four days? Probably.

“If you do a test on how productive people are, you’d probably find that about half the day is spent doing stuff that is not as productive or focused on just trying to get your job done. If you can tighten up and make people more focused then that can help.”

Jonny Stewart, director at recruitment agency Gilbert Meher in Leeds, which is switching to a four-day working week. Picture: James Hardisty.

Mr Stewart says the move to a four-day week is about treating staff members as adults and trusting them to manage their work patterns.

It will mean that staff will have to be on standby in case there are any major issues that need to be dealt with.

The office will be open five days a week.

“If they need to take calls, they can take them from wherever they are,” Mr Stewart said. “They can take calls on a Friday if they need to but they’re not required to be in the office.”

Gilbert Meher started off working on senior appointments in the health and social sectors when it was launched in 2011.

Since then it has expanded not only the tiers it recruits for, it places people in entry level jobs as well as executive roles, but also become more international.

The business is recruiting for roles in the social care sector across the US. It means that some staff members can end up working until around 10pm on some evenings.

The switch to a four-day week would allow them to recharge their batteries as well, Mr Stewart said.

The competitive nature amongst peers in recruitment, Gilbert Meher has a leader board of the top performers in its office, makes it easier for the firm to adopt a four-day week.

While Mr Stewart is confident that the four-day week will work for Gilbert Meher, it might not be so easy for businesses in other sectors to adopt.

He said: “You’ve got to make sure it’s right for you. I don’t think it’s for everyone.Make sure that the business is suitable for it.

“I’d survey staff to find out whether they feel it’s something that they would be comfortable with.”

‘In staff we trust at Gilbert Meher’

Gilbert Meher has three directors, who will also be switching to a four-day week.

The business is growing and as a result Gilbert Meher’s directors are bringing finance and HR functions in house.

Director Jonny Stewart said: “We’re a growing business. We’re all very hands-on at the moment. Once we’ve established the support team, that will take a lot of pressure off us and allow us to focus on developing and working on the business.

Mr Stewart believes that trusting staff is very important when adopting a four-day week. “You need to trust them to come in and do what they need to do,” he said.