The Township of Springwater is taking steps to improve the work-life balance of its employees through a new pilot program that will also see extended municipal office hours.
At its April 6 meeting, Springwater Council voted unanimously to bring in a 4-day compressed work week across the corporation for a five-month trial period beginning on April 25, 2022. The move comes in an effort to provide more flexibility to staff as well as residents who may have trouble accessing services during the Township’s current hours of operation.
Under the proposed model, Township staff will work longer days, either from Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday, reaching the same 35 or 40 hour work week as they do under the existing 5-day model. Arranging the team in two separate groups will allow the municipality to keep its office doors open five days per week with the extended hours providing residents and other stakeholders an extra hour of service each day at no additional cost to the Springwater taxpayer. The compressed work week schedule will be available to all employees on a voluntary basis, subject to the operational requirements of each department.
The 4-day compressed work week has previously been implemented in a small number of Ontario municipalities, including the Townships of Zorra, Blandford Blenheim, East Zorra-Tavistock, and South-West Oxford. In staff’s outreach to these communities, they have learned of numerous benefits to the 4-day work week, from enhanced staff retention and attraction to improved employee morale, increased productivity, and a reduction in absenteeism.
The program is part of a larger Flexible Work Arrangement Policy for the Township, which will also provide options for remote work, flexible work, and hybrid work.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a real trigger for rethinking the world of work,” says Township CAO Jeff Schmidt. “We’ve been listening to our employees over the past year and have heard how they want and need more flexibility to take better care of their mental health. Our goal with this trial is to further establish a culture where we celebrate balance with increased flexibility and trust, resulting in happier and more productive employees.”
During the 4-day compressed work week trial period, the Township Administration Centre will be open to the public from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm from Monday to Friday.