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Skill drought forces accountancy to trial four-day week

Business

The practice hopes the scheme will help it retain staff and attract recruits.

By Josh Needs4 minute read
Nicole Holden

One Queensland accountancy has embarked on a four-day work week trial in an effort to increase its retention and recruitment rate.

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The people and culture manager at ABA Advice, Nicole Holden, said embracing a four-day week would help create a positive culture in the company as it confronts the skill drought.

“The intention was to have a happy team and have a great culture here, but as we’ve moved along, even in the last three to four months the labour shortage has gotten much worse and we’re really struggling,” said Ms Holden.

“We can’t really compete with the big guys on the salary packages all the time, so if it is a benefit to us, we’ve absolutely decided to run with it.

“Anything we can do to help attract new, really innovative staff.”

ABA Advice practice manager Judy Eason said the move would be attractive to potential recruits. 

“In a highly competitive labour market we hope that this will be just one more factor that sets us apart to attract innovative new co-workers,” said Ms Eason. 

Ms Holden said two ABA Advice job ads featuring the four-day work week attracted candidates who were happy with the idea.

“It’s something we’ve had positive feedback on, people are noticing it, people want it,” said Ms Holden.

ABA Advice is one of 20 Australian and New Zealand businesses – but the only accounting firm – committed to the six-month trial, which starts on 1 August.

The trial is based on the idea of 100:80:100 model: 100 per cent pay for 80 per cent of the hours but 100 per cent productivity. 

As a service-based business, ABA Advice had to overcome the problem of how it would provide for clients working five-day weeks. 

Ms Holden said they found their solution on LinkedIn. 

“There was a gentleman who posted that the way his company got around it was doing a rotating roster, a fortnightly roster,” said Ms Holden.

“One week half of our team will work from Monday through to Thursday and the next week they will work from Tuesday to Friday.

“So rather than having a three-day weekend every weekend, we get a four-day weekend every second weekend.”

She also said that the company had to split its team by service levels so that there would always be someone at each level to meet its clients’ needs.

“The key factor is making sure our service standard doesn’t drop and that our clients are still receiving the service that they are expecting,” said Ms Holden.

Ms Holden said that the company would consider switching to four-day weeks if the trial was a success.

“If we get to the end of six months and we are on track with our financial budget, we are on track with the team feedback coming back positive and we are on track with the client feedback coming back positive, that will be a huge success for us and we will absolutely implement it on a permanent basis,” said Ms Holden.

The trial is run by 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit organisation that provides training, mentoring and planning for companies thinking of making the switch.

The Australia and New Zealand trial follows a similar experiment in the UK, where 70 companies began four-day weeks on 7 June.

Skill drought forces accountancy to trial four-day week
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Josh Needs

Josh Needs

AUTHOR

Josh Needs is a journalist at Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, which are the leading sources of news, strategy, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Josh studied journalism at the University of NSW and previously wrote news, feature articles and video reviews for Unsealed 4x4, a specialist offroad motoring website. Since joining the Momentum Media Team in 2022, Josh has written for Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser.

You can email Josh on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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