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Why take 10 days to do what you could in nine?

Here’s why local advertising agency kwpx gives its staff every tenth day off.

Dec 04, 2023, updated Jan 31, 2024

“Burn out”. “Quiet quitting”. “Career Cushioning”. If there’s one thing advertising is good at, it’s coming up with new ways to sell old ideas.

In 2023, the world of work moans and creaks as it navigates a choppy post-global-pandemic sea of change.

For the past five months, Adelaide advertising agency, kwpx have worked nine days a fortnight instead of 10. And the results are in. The sky hasn’t fallen. Indeed­ staff morale and productivity are up, according to kwpx CEO David O’Loughlin.

“Humans aren’t robots,” O’Loughlin said.

“The world of work, the way we work, and the way we measure impact and effectiveness today quite literally enables us to do more with less.

“It was time to give that dividend back to our people.”

Of course, what the boss thinks and what the staff feel are often in need of alignment. But with monthly staff surveys consistently telling a positive story, kwpx’s nine-day-fortnight trial became workplace practice on Friday.

O’Loughlin said feedback speaks for itself:

“I am surprised at the difference that one day has made to my overall enjoyment of work. The reset that comes around every two weeks always feels timely and allows me to re-engage with work with more enthusiasm.”

“I feel I have been able to better prioritise my workload, as having less time to complete task has forced me to be even more efficient. Not only that, but I have an extra day to completely decompress and have time to myself and my family.”

“Having a day to dedicate to my own creative pursuits fuels me and fills my cup so I can give more to my work.”

O’Loughlin said the nine-day fortnight means disruption to client workflow is minimal while employee attention is focused on delivering within the cadence of a fortnightly rhythm.

To make the system work, the company’s roster is staggered across all five working days and the fortnight for all the staff, meaning there isn’t one single day that the company is missing a large chunk of their 87 workers.

If the rostered day off falls on a holiday, it isn’t paid forward to another day off.

“The whole premise was there’d be no effect to pay or accruals of entitlements. Using this premise made the accounting practise easy as it was effectively status quo,” O’Loughlin said.

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It’s basically a pay rise.

O’Loughlin said the idea stemmed from the four-day workweek trend in Europe and the United States but after testing scenarios they found a nine-day fortnight meshed better with their workflows and clients.

“We didn’t really consider an 18-day month as our workflows tend to be a little more immediate and our planning windows a little shorter. A day off every two weeks was therefore the best option,” he said.

To get the best fit, management took the idea to an employee benefits working group which then scenario tested it against the varied work practices of the company’s departments to ensure service levels and product quality wouldn’t be negatively affected, or staff put under any undue stress.

“The scenario planning meant that when we commenced the trial, expectations were managed and contingencies planned for,” O’Loughlin said.

“And so far, all has gone pretty much to plan as expected.”

With leaked documents from Amazon showing their staff attrition rate was approaching 100 per cent last year and staff turnover estimated at costing the business “$8 Billion annually” kwpx believes the lesson from Amazon is simple: Don’t treat humans like robots.

“This ‘day off a fortnight’ we’re giving our staff is all about encouraging them to be innovative, to value their time, and take responsibility for it,” O’Loughlin said.

“Everyone wastes time at work they could better spend with friends or family, or whatever the hell they want.

“I just think it makes that whole ‘work smarter, not harder’ cliché actually mean something to our people and our clients.”

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