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Is the Four Day Week Finally Catching On?

Most workers are familiar with the sense of anticipation that comes towards the end of the work week when you’re feeling tired and worn out – you need that weekend break! And then there are those magical times when you get a three-day weekend thanks to a holiday. Now imagine how much better life would be if your work week were always just four days instead of five. Sounds too good to be true, right? But it’s not, and an increasing number of companies are finally beginning to realize that the time has come to adopt the four day week.

Where did the 40-Hour Work Week Come From?

As it turns out, the 40-hour work week isn’t some kind of scientifically tested standard. It was the brainchild of the first woman appointed to a US Cabinet position – Frances Perkins – who served as Secretary of Labor from 1933-1945 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She defined the 40-hour work week as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act in order to protect factory workers from being overworked – not because of any evidence that it is an optimal number of hours for workers or the companies employing them. Now there is mounting evidence that the 40-hour week is not optimal for workers or their employers.

Benefits of the Four Day Week

The idea is relatively straightforward: By allowing workers to put in a four day week, employees will achieve a better work-life balance, have less stress, increase productivity, and generally be more engaged at work. Beyond just getting more work done, the work employees do might actually be of a higher quality. These aren’t just theoretical benefits. Real companies who have adopted some version of a four day week have experienced the benefits first-hand. Here are a few examples:

  • Perpetual Guardian is a New Zealand firm that manages trusts, wills and estates. It offered its 240 employees the opportunity to work four days each week while getting paid for five. It ran an experiment for two months to study the effects of reducing its work week from 40 hours to 32. Workers reported a 24% improvement in work-life balance and felt more energized at work. Managers reported that absenteeism went down and productivity went up without any prompting. It was the workers themselves who figured out ways to be more productive in less time, like making meetings shorter – in other words, workers naturally gravitated towards working smarter,not harder. It’s a shift in mindset on the part of employers who realize that the employment contract should be about work produced and tasks accomplished, not the number of hours spent in the office (source). Perpetual Guardian was smart about this experiment, leveraging it into a global conversation on productivity and even created a website devoted to their efforts at 4 Day Week. And the company’s board has now signed off on making the four day week a permanent change.
  • Amazon started conducting an experiment in 2016 that allowed some employees to work a 30-hour week for 75% of their salary while still receiving full-time benefits. Core hours for these workers are from 10AM-2PM Monday through Thursday, with the remaining hours put in on flexible basis according to employee preferences. Amazon hasn’t said much of anything about the results of its experiment, but has continued to advertise some positions based on this 30-hour model, so it must be working to some extent.
  • Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) is a web application development company that takes a unique approach to their workweek. For four months of the year (May through August) the company operates on a four day, 32-hour work week. It’s important to note that they’re not trying to cram 40 hours of work into four days. By eliminating one full day of work each week, the company has found that workers naturally prioritize differently and end up working more efficiently. The company’s workers seem to really appreciate having 3-day weekends all summer long.

Is it Time for a Four Day Week at Your Company?

The Society for Human Resources Management notes that while 43% of companies have some kind of four day week option, it’s typically only offered to a select group of employees. Only 10% of companies make it available to all their workers (source).Keep in mind that how you go about it does make a difference. The companies that are reaping the most benefits are those that reduce the overall number of hours worked, as opposed to just making four days of the week longer to give 3-day weekends. Those workers will certainly enjoy the longer weekends, but will they be any more productive during 10-hour days? More research is needed in order to figure out the optimal arrangement, as well as to determine whether the approach taken should be different according to the type of work that is being performed.

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Improving Retention with Paid Sabbaticals

Companies have come up with a whole host of different perks and benefits to entice employees into staying put for as long as possible. Some of those benefits take the form of various kinds of paid and unpaid time off, many of which were mentioned in my recent article, Employee Time Off Tracking. One of the 20 different time off perks listed was the sabbatical. Most people who went to college or university are familiar with the idea of a sabbatical because higher education is one place where it’s common – a tenured professor gets to take a semester or even a year off from their teaching duties in order to pursue their own research interests. But the idea of a sabbatical as a great way to improve retention is gaining a foothold beyond higher education. Is it an option that should be added to your company’s benefits?

Sabbaticals for Retaining Your Most Experienced Staff

Paid sabbaticals aren’t typically offered to just any employee. In the realm of higher education, they tend to be reserved for tenured professors, allowing them to take their research and thinking to new levels without the encumbrances inherent in a heavy teaching load. Why would a university go through the expense involved in granting a professor a paid sabbatical? Smart institutions of higher education understand the value of their star professors. If they want to retain them, they need to give them freedom and flexibility to pursue their research interests. But besides the mere retention factor, there is perhaps even greater benefit to the institution’s reputation, which is very important in higher education. If granting a professor a paid sabbatical results in them producing their next big break-through in their field, it’s not just the professor who gets a better reputation and lots of attention, but the university as well. This two-fold benefit of retaining the best employees with a perk and enhancing the institutional reputation by what is accomplished during the sabbatical explains why they work so well in higher education. But what about elsewhere?

Public Schools May Begin to Adopt Sabbaticals

One natural migration that is on the horizon is the availability of paid sabbaticals for teachers in public schools. This is not a topic of discussion yet in the US, but teachers in England may soon find that it is an option for them. As in higher education, though, it’s not a perk for every teacher. Since part of the point is to improve retention of experienced staff, the sabbaticals would only be made available after 10 years of service,and participating teachers would need to clearly show how the time away from the classroom will benefit their teaching. Spearheading this effort in England is education secretary Damian Hinds as reported in The Guardian (source).

Paid Sabbaticals in Corporate America

It’s not surprising that the examples of paid sabbaticals mentioned so far are both from the field of education. However, you may be surprised to find out that paid sabbaticals are available in a variety of businesses, including the following:

  • Patagonia: This outdoor clothing company will allow eligible employees to take up to two months away from work in order to volunteer at an approved environmental organization while still receiving their regular full pay and benefits.
  • REI: Employees who put in 15 years with this outdoor retailer are eligible for 4-week paid sabbaticals, and again every five years after that.
  • Timberland: The footwear company allows employees to take paid “service sabbaticals” ranging from 12-24 weeks in order to participate in meaningful community service work.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Paid sabbaticals incorporate America are obviously for the crunchy-granola companies with progressive policies around service and environmental causes, right? Wrong! You’ll be even more surprised to find out about other companies who offer paid sabbaticals;

  • McDonald’s: Corporate employees (not franchise location employees) get eight-week paid sabbaticals after each consecutive ten years of service, and they get to do whatever they want with their paid time off.
  • Cheesecake Factory: Corporate employees get three-week paid sabbaticals after five years of service.
  • QuikTrip: This convenience store chain offers employees of all types four-week paid sabbaticals after 25 years of service, and again every five years thereafter.

These companies are making the smart move by recognizing that the long-term benefits of retaining their most loyal and experienced employees far outweigh the short-term costs of providing paid sabbaticals. Is it time for your company to add in paid sabbaticals to the benefits offered to your best employees? While you’re thinking about the answer to that question, sign up for a free 60-day trial of CaptureLeave to find out just how easy it can be to track and monitor all the types of leave offered at your company. Our simple but powerful web-based leave tracking system is the perfect solution for better management and monitoring of employee leave time.

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Absence Management Software

One of the biggest problems faced by startups, small businesses and even medium-sized businesses is the challenge of absence management. And we’re not just talking about time off away from the workplace – any manager knows all too well that workers can be present but not productive. Perhaps even more surprising is how many companies don’t even make use of absence management software, in spite of the many inexpensive solutions now available. Here are some of the challenges a company faces when it comes to absenteeism.

 

Absence Management Software Won’t Solve Wasted Time

An astounding 89% of employees surveyed admitted to wasting at least some time at work according to Forbes back in 2015 (source) and it’s doubtful the situation has improved since then. Of these, 62% admit to wasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour out of each day. It also will come as no surprise that the biggest time waster continues to be personal use of technology such as emails, texts, calls, web-surfing and social media. Good old-fashioned gossiping is up near the top as well, if it makes you feel any better (it shouldn’t). While your company’s absence management software (if you have it) can’t help with the time-wasters, there are things you can do. Have clear policies and open discussion about them. Think about shifting away from hours worked to work accomplished. Define tasks that need to be completed and if an employee gets them done they can go home. That’s a much better incentive to get the work done in a timely fashion.

 

Outdated Ways of Absence Management Hurt Your Company

Another way that time can get wasted at work is when your company does not have absence management software. It is surprising how many companies continue to get by (or not) with paper-based systems or spreadsheets. A very small company with only a handful of employees is easy to keep track of with such systems, but when a company grows larger and has multiple locations, outdated systems will inevitably wind up causing more harm than good. Spreadsheets get larger and unwieldy, creating confusion about where the latest data can be found. Employees don’t have a good sense of where they stand in relation to time off. Everyone ends up frustrated.

 

So why would a company stick with such outdated absence management systems? There can be serious inertia that holds such outdated systems in place because they are at least familiar and don’t require trying to find and obtain the right absence management software. But the software task isn’t as daunting as you might think. Ease the pain by following a step-by-step process like the one we presented in our recent article, Leave Management System: What Does Your Company Need?

 

Legal Compliance Issues and Absence Management Software

There are also legal issues to consider when managing absenteeism. Managers will inevitably notice those employees who seem to have some kind of sickness or issue with alarming regularity on Fridays, thereby lengthening the employee’s weekend. If it gets to the point where disciplinary action or dismissal is an option, you want to have a very clear record of the excessive absences and reasons, as well as notes on any discussions you’ve with the employee about it. The right absence management software can make tracking and monitoring of all this data very easy. In fact, there are all kinds of situations where you might need to quickly access and/or present data about any given employee’s work history in terms of absences and leave. Does the system you currently have in place allow you to do that? If not, then it’s time to consider finding a good absence management software system.

 

Without Absence Management Software, Absenteeism is Costly

If you’re not measuring and tracking absenteeism at your company, then you really don’t have an accurate picture of what absenteeism is costing you. Absences are always going to happen, but an unplanned or unnecessary absence can really throw things off in a workplace or a team. The lost productivity is an obvious cost, but if there’s a project deadline hanging in the balance the cost can be much larger or even affect workplace morale that drags down everyone else’s productivity. Tracking and analyzing absence data can go a long way towards seeing patterns that can be addressed proactively rather than merely reacting to a crisis that might have been avoided with absence management software.

 

Effective management of your company needs to include effective management of absences from work, which in turns means that having the right absence management software should be a no-brainer priority if you company isn’t currently using any. We’ve already point to a previous article about a process you can follow to make sure you find the tool that’s right for your company. We’d also like you to take a closer look at look at CaptureLeave to see how it can get the job done for you. Sign up for a free trial to find out – you have nothing to lose except the current frustration you feel from not effectively managing absenteeism!

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eLeave Management: Get the Job Done with CaptureLeave

CaptureLeave simplifies the process of tracking vacation leave.

There are quite a few leave management software tools out there that are called eLeave from a variety of software companies, but we’re thinking of “eLeave” as a word that’s like “eLearning,” meaning online leave management. What many of them have in common is that they allow for employee access to check on their leave balances as well as file leave requests online. As you might expect, these tools are typically SaaS (software as a service) apps that make leave tracking and management much easier at small and medium-sized companies. In this article, we’d like to present a more in-depth look at our own eLeave system – CaptureLeave.

 

Simplified eLeave Management with CaptureLeave

Do your employees have to fill out a paper form to request leave time? If so, then they have to turn that form in somewhere and it has to then get routed to one or more places for however many approvals are needed, such as from the employee’s manager as well as the human resources office. And then there is the record-keeping needed to keep track of leave time for all the other employees. This quickly becomes a major waste of one of the most precious resources at your company as it grows – time. CaptureLeave easily records, tracks, and documents all employee vacation leaves with just a few clicks, saving your company time and money. A simple but powerful paperless solution is by far the best way to go.

 

Automated eLeave Tracking Scheme

CaptureLeave includes an extensive employee vacation tracking scheme through a calendar that handles all your company’s leave management concerns. Getting started couldn’t be easier. After creating an account, you add all your company’s regular holidays. You can create employee groups as needed based on your company’s organizational chart of departments. Employees are able to log onto the system to file their leave requests online. Managers or the HR department logs into the system to approve or reject leave requests and can also place notes on requests to explain decisions made. Need a report about employee leave from the last quarter? CaptureLeave will have it ready for you at the click of a button. We took great care in designing it to be simple, flexible, efficient, comprehensive, easy to learn and easy to use. You can view leave data for your company in charts and graphs that will allow you to easily identify leave trends at the company, department or individual employee level over any date range desired as well as filtered by type of leave, giving you actionable insights that can be leveraged into more effective management of employee leave.

 

The Advantages of a SaaS eLeave System

In the digital era of the 21st century, you can enjoy the benefits of getting an eLeave software system as a web-based software as a system (SaaS) app. This means your company doesn’t have to install software on the company servers or worry about installing new versions when they come out. CaptureLeave can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection and a web browser, which means it can be available 24/7 on an as-needed basis. We manage all the details behind-the-scenes for upgrading and improving the system, so you have the peace of mind knowing you’re always up-to-date without lifting a finger. There is no need to continue limping along with paper-based systems or clunky spreadsheets. Outdated systems waste time – and in today’s rapidly changing business world, time is money. Those outdated systems are also often riddled with errors, which can leave your company vulnerable to legal liabilities. When you consider just these basic advantages of a SaaS eLeave app, can your company really afford not to put one in place?

 

We take great pride in constantly evaluating our software to make sure it continues to be the superior solution our clients have come to expect. We take customer feedback very seriously and use it to map out new improvements and enhancements while at the same time ensuring that it remains very simple and easy to use. This continuous improvement cycle based in efficiency and user-friendliness is why a growing number of SMBs (small-to-midsized businesses) choose CaptureLeave to meet their leave tracking and management needs.

 

If it’s time to take the pain and frustration out of your leave management system, then it’s time to take a closer look at CaptureLeave. You can sign up for a free 60-day trial in order to see what it can do for your company, and how easy it is to use. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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Employee Time Off Tracking

It was management guru Peter Drucker who is most commonly attributed with the well-worn quote that “what gets measured gets managed,” although various people said similar things both before and after him. Ignoring the notion that sometimes you have to manage things that simply cannot be effectively measured is a useful approach. Measuring those things you need to manage makes everything more real, and paves the way to making SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals. Applying this idea to employee time off tracking makes good business sense.

 

Time Off Tracking: The Many Forms of Employee Leave

Most people are aware of some of the more common forms of employee leave, but there are actually a surprisingly wide of range options out there in corporate America, including the following 20 forms of time off benefits:

 

  1. Vacation Time: Paid time off to spend in whatever way employees want.
  2. Personal Days: Paid days off work that employees need that aren’t related to being sick or taking vacation.
  3. Sick Time: Paid absences from work to receive medical care, recover from an illness or give care to a sick family member who needs care.
  4. Short-Term or Long-Term Disability: Paid absence from work when a medical condition, injury or other form of disability (including pregnancy) prevents an employee from being able to do their job.
  5. Holidays: Paid days off that coincide with widely recognized holidays, though there is variation between federal and state policies as well as at the individual company level.
  6. Floating Holidays: Holidays not widely recognized but which may be important to individual employees. Employees are free to use these paid holidays as desired.
  7. Sympathy Leave/Bereavement: Paid absences from work to deal with a death in one’s immediate family (spouse, children, parents, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, etc.)
  8. Pet Bereavement: Paid absence from work to deal with the death of a pet.
  9. Jury Duty: Paid leave so an employee can serve jury duty when called.
  10. Military Leave: Authorized absences from work to fulfill military duty and obligations, which may be partially paid and with assurances of restoring their position.
  11. Comp Time: Time off in lieu of being compensated for overtime worked.
  12. Maternity Leave: Post-birth time off for moms to be with their newborns.
  13. Paternity Leave: Post-birth time off for dads to be with their newborns
  14. Emergency Child Care Leave: Paid time off when an employee’s regular childcare option is suddenly not available, including school closures and cancellations.
  15. Community Service: Paid time off for an employee to participate in volunteer service opportunities, usually with a non-profit organization.
  16. Study/Sabbatical: Paid time off to pursue job-related education and/or professional development.
  17. Convention Leave: Paid time off to attend job-related conventions, conferences and seminars.
  18. Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault/Stalking Survivors Leave: Paid absence for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking to receive care and counseling.
  19. Leave of Absence: Approved time off (could be paid or unpaid) for reasons not covered by other types of leave not offered at the workplace in question.
  20. PTO (Paid Time Off): An approach to employee leave that lumps all of a company’s different forms of paid time off into one simple category, giving each employee a fixed number of paid days off they can take at their discretion, typically pending managerial approval.

 

All these different ways to provide employees with time off, whether for recreation or for emergency reasons, might seem to make the country’s workplaces seem generous. But it’s also important to realize that there are millions of workers who get little or no paid time off at all. Unlike most other developed nations in the world, the US does not have a firm national policy about paid leave from work, making employee time off tracking all the more important given the unique approach taken by each company.

 

Make Time Off Tracking Easy by Choosing the Right Tool

If your company needs to get better at managing worker leave, then it’s time to find the right employee time off tracking tool. The good news is that in the digital age of the 21st century, your business doesn’t have to go through complicated software installations on the company’s servers or worry about upgrading to new versions. This is the beauty of SaaS – software as a service – which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of any number of web-based applications for employee time off tracking. And these can be surprisingly affordable solutions. The challenge, of course, is figuring out which one is right for your company, given that there are scores of options to sift through. For more information on how to go about choosing the right tool, see our recent article, Leave Management System: What Does Your Company Need? If your company is ready to tackle the challenge of employee time off tracking, take a close look at CaptureLeave and sign up for a free trial to find out if it’s the right tool for you!

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FMLA Tracking Software: What it Can and Cannot Do

When the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed back in 1993, it was hailed as an important step forward for the United States – one of the few developed countries in the world that doesn’t have a broad national paid leave policy. While there are many apps available today for monitoring employee leave time that can serve as FMLA tracking software, knowing some of the finer points of the regulations is important in order to make the best use of any software tool.

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