Items tagged with: Trial
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Study of trial at New Zealand firm finds staff were both happier and more productive
Article word count: 828
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19198649
Posted by uxhacker (karma: 572)
Post stats: Points: 129 - Comments: 36 - 2019-02-19T13:08:08Z
#HackerNews #but #cut #finds #four-day #lower #output #stress #study #trial #week
Analysis of one of the biggest trials yet of the four-day working week has revealed no fall in output, decreases in stress and increased staff engagement, fuelling hopes that a better work-life-balance for millions could finally be in sight.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day week to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay. Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released on Tuesday has revealed.
The trial was monitored by academics at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. Among the Perpetual Guardian staff they found scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation, empowerment and commitment all increased compared with a 2017 survey.
Andrew Barnes, managing director of Perpetual Guardian.
‘Groundbreaking’: Andrew Barnes, managing director of Perpetual Guardian. Photograph: Perpetual Guardian
The biggest increases were in commitment and empowerment. Staff stress levels were down from 45% to 38%. Work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%.
“We’ve been treated like adults and I think as a result everyone is behaving like adults,” said Tammy Barker, a branch manager who was part of the trial that cut the working week from from 37.5 hours to 30.
The eight-week experiment was closely watched by employers and policymakers around the world.
In the UK, the Wellcome Trust science funding body is considering switching its 800 head office staff to a four-day week, and Perpetual Guardian has been inundated with more than 350 requests for information about the trial from 28 countries. Most have come from organisations in the UK, followed by Australia, the US and Germany.
The Labour party has commissioned a study of the possibilities of a four-day week. However, early research points to the complexity of achieving productivity gains in major industries like retail, where being present is a key part of the job.
In the UK, average working hours have been increasing since the financial crisis, and questions have been raised about how far people working in frontline occupations such as nursing or the police could cut their hours without reducing the public service they provide.
Smaller companies experimenting with the four-day week have found performance has been better in the first few weeks as excitement about the project took hold, before falling slightly.
“The biggest concern from an employer point of view is ensuring that the full-time introduction of the policy doesn’t lead to complacency, with the risk that people’s productivity will slip back,” Barker said.
“To guard against this happening we’ve spent a lot of time making sure every person in every team has their own plan as to how they’re going to maintain and even improve their productivity.”
Shopper in Karangahape in Auckland city, New Zealand
People used the additional day off for some of the same leisure activity they would have done at the weekend. Photograph: Alamy
But she said that she had personally found that working less increased her focus on tasks, and she was no longer jumping from one thing to the next.
“I was actually finishing projects before moving on to the next one, and by the end of the day found I was accomplishing more than trying to multitask everything,” she said.
“I did find that my productivity increased purely by being more aware of my work processes and thinking about how I was doing things and why I was doing them. At the same time, I didn’t feel any more stressed at work probably because I was really focussing on the tasks at hand and because I had the extra day off to compensate for the increased work rate.”
People used the additional day off for some of the same leisure activity they would have done at the weekend, such as golf or watching Netflix, but new activities emerged too, according to Jarrod Haar, professor of human resource management at the Auckland University of Technology.
These included “spending time with parents”, “spending much-needed time studying”, and “cleaning the house on a Wednesday and then having the weekend free”.
“Managers reported their teams were more creative after the trial,” he said. “It involved them finding solutions to doing their work in four days, so this reflected well. Importantly, they rated their teams as giving better customer service – they were more engaging and focussed when clients and customers called.”
He said significantly lower job stress and burnout was reported, with work-life balance levels achieving record highs.
“Beyond wellbeing, employees reported their teams were stronger and functioned better together, more satisfied with their jobs, more engaged and they felt their work had greater meaning,” he said. “They also reported being more committed to the organisation and less likely to look elsewhere for a job.”
Perpetual Guardian’s founder and chief executive, Andrew Barnes, said: “Having implemented the four-day week on an opt-in basis we are continuing to identify ways to raise productivity and improve engagement, wellbeing and job satisfaction within this groundbreaking model of flexibility.”
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Although people ended up happier, the government hoped it would help the unemployed to find work.
Article word count: 859
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19114834
Posted by grahamel (karma: 1373)
Post stats: Points: 62 - Comments: 191 - 2019-02-08T15:08:39Z
#HackerNews #basic #but #finland #happier #income #jobless #left #people #trial
By Ashitha Nagesh BBC News
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe experiment saw 2,000 people paid €560 (£490) a month, instead of their unemployment benefit.
Giving jobless people in Finland a basic income for two years did not lead them to find work, researchers said.
From January 2017 until December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns got a monthly flat payment of €560 (£490; $685).
The aim was to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs, and support them if they had to take insecure gig economy work.
While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed.
When it launched the pilot scheme back in 2017, Finland became the first European country to test out the idea of an unconditional basic income. It was run by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency, and involved 2,000 randomly-selected people on unemployment benefits.
It immediately attracted international interest - but these results have now raised questions about the effectiveness of such schemes.
What is ʼbasic incomeʼ and how does it work?
Universal basic income, or UBI, means that everyone gets a set monthly income, regardless of means. The Finnish trial was a bit different, as it focused on people who were unemployed.
Another popular variation is ʼuniversal basic servicesʼ - where instead of getting an income, things like education, healthcare and transport are free for all.
Although itʼs enjoying a resurgence in popularity, the idea isnʼt new. In fact, it was first described in Sir Thomas Moreʼs Utopia, published in 1516 - a full 503 years ago.
Such schemes are being trialled all over the world. Adults in a village in western Kenya are being given $22 a month for 12 years, until 2028, while the Italian government is working on introducing a "citizensʼ income". The city of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, is also carrying out a basic income study called Weten Wat Werkt - "Know What Works" - until October.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some 2,000 unemployed people in Finland were randomly selected
What is the point?
Supporters of basic income often believe an unconditional safety net can help people out of poverty, by giving them the time to apply for jobs or learn essential new skills. This is seen as increasingly important in the age of automation - that is, put very simply, as robots take peopleʼs jobs.
Miska Simanainen, one of the Kela researchers behind the Finnish study, tells BBC News that this was what their government had wanted to test, in order "to see if it would be a way of reforming the social security system".
So, did it work?
That depends what you mean by ʼworkʼ.
Did it help unemployed people in Finland find jobs, as the centre-right Finnish government had hoped? No, not really.
Mr Simanainen says that while some individuals found work, they were no more likely to do so than a control group of people who werenʼt given the money. They are still trying to work out exactly why this is, for the final report that will be published in 2020.
But for many people, the original goal of getting people into work was flawed to begin with. If instead the aim were to make people generally happier, the scheme would have been considered a triumph.
One participant, former newspaper editor Tuomas, pretty much summed this up when he told BBC News about how the basic income had affected him.
"I am still without a job," he explained. "I canʼt say that the basic income has changed a lot in my life. OK, psychologically yes, but financially - not so much."
What are the downsides to basic income?
UBI is one of those rare issues that attracts equally strong support - and criticism - from all parts of the political spectrum.
For a lot of people on the left, UBI focuses too heavily on individualsʼ personal wealth and buying power - or rather, their lack of it - without doing anything to stop companies wasting resources by producing far more stuff than people need, and over-working their employees in the process.
Economics writer Grace Blakely makes this point in the New Socialist, adding that "without fundamental structural reforms to our economic system, UBI will only be a sticking plaster papering over the cracks".
Others worry that basic income will be used to cut costs, by setting the rate too low and slashing other, means-tested benefits.
Meanwhile, many on the political right and centre worry about the exact opposite - that UBI would be too expensive to implement, and would encourage a "something for nothing" culture.
Ulrich Spiesshofer, chief executive of ABB engineering company, echoed this sentiment in 2016 when he told the Financial Times that "economic rewards [for people] should be based on actually creating economic value".
So what next?
Researchers from Kela are now busy analysing all of their results, to figure out what else - if anything - they can tell us about basic incomeʼs uses and shortcomings.
Mr Simanainen says that he doesnʼt like to think of the trial as having "failed".
From his point of view, "this is not a failure or success - it is a fact, and [gives us] new information that we did not have before this experiment".
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The world's largest clinical trial into the benefits of Vitamin D in preventing fractures shows no correlation.