In the year since the launch of the 25hours’ four-day work-week initiative, the brand has revolutionised the way our teams in the DACH region work, bagging them a ‘Game Changer’ award in the process. Our EVP of People & Culture, Kathrin Gollubits, shares her insights on the pioneering project, from inception to implementation.
Whoever said the 4-day work week model couldn’t be applied in the hospitality industry has never met Kathrin Gollubits. A force to the reckoned with, she’s managed to do what most said was impossible for a global hospitality brand – introduce the four-day work week at the eleven 25hours Hotels in the German-speaking region.
Why take on the mammoth task you ask? “We decided to launch the programme after an internal survey where our team requested to work less hours to stay motivated”, says Kathrin, “the idea for the 4-day work-week was initially discussed a few years ago, but in the post-pandemic world, an offer to attract new employees and a better work-life balance is a top priority for our team members”.
From an operational perspective, the administrative effort alone was daunting. Rethinking duty roster design, operational processes, work enrichment and increasing the staff count was essential for the project to work, but as Kathrin tells us, “the time and effort was totally worth it”. In the new model, everyone on the team will choose between a new or classic work week at full salary – the new model being four working days, at nine hours each, rather than your standard five working days at eight hours.
If the math isn’t quite adding up, you’re not wrong. But the 25hours team have found a solution to that too. The remaining four hours are put into an ‘overtime buffer’ account, used when employees are required to stay a little later than planned (for example, when a guest stays a little longer in the restaurant in the evening). “Three days off are always guaranteed”, Kathrin explains, “At the end of the year, everyone’s hourly ‘overtime buffer’ account will be reset to zero.”
Her next challenge – implementing the new model. “Something new requires a change in mindset. Not only from an operational perspective in how you work but also with each and every person in the company”, says Kathrin. “Even though we have a culture of trust at 25hours, people doubted the initiative was real. They were afraid that we were cutting on salary or taking something else away from their package. They couldn’t believe we were actually giving them an extra day off. There was much communication involved, personal, digital, and answering questions at staff meetings. It paid off.”
Now a year from introducing the four-day work-week across the DACH region. Kathrin explains the project has paid off in two ways: increasing motivation and staff retention. “The results were more than satisfactory”, reported Kathrin, “We were able to inspire almost 80% of our team to take part and see more balanced and productive colleagues. We had problems after the pandemic with hiring, and now we’re in a position where only 5% of roles are vacant. In a nutshell, we’ve just proved to ourselves that we’ve done something right”.
Exceeding expectations for the project, the bold introduction of the four-day work-week at 25hours Hotels in Germany, Switzerland and Austria won an award at the Hospitality HR Awards 2022. The award was aptly named “Game Changer”.
What’s next on the agenda for Kathrin and the People & Culture team? “Our 4-day work week was just the start, we’re still fine-tuning the programme”, she says, “We are also testing some new formats when it comes to Learning & Development programmes, providing the training for our top talents to grow into new roles across the Ennismore brands. This is our focus for 2023”.