Creating Balance: The 32-Hour Work Week

All around the world, companies are slowly stepping back from the traditional 40-hour workweek. Family Equality joins those ranks with a 32-hour workweek trial-implementation phase.

You may have heard of a new trend stirring workplaces across America. A 2023 study conducted in the UK shows evidence of its success, recording an overall increase in productivity, employee enthusiasm and general wellness. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the data is clear: reducing time in the office is a cost-effective move. More importantly, it is good for employees’ health, and since Family Equality is at the forefront of the fight for human rights and social justice, it is vital for us to create an environment that supports self-care and prevents burnout.

As legislative attacks against LGBTQ+ people reaches a record-breaking high, we must give ourselves permission to rest when necessary and prioritize our mental health. That’s why we’re in a trial phase for the 32-hour, 4-day workweek. Family Equality is devoted to serving families and those who wish to form them, and that mission extends to our own employees. By making this transition, we can better tend to the needs of our staff and enable a stronger work-life balance.

Getting started

It may sound like a cutting-edge move, but it’s a year and a half in the making. In late 2021, a handful of Family Equality Employees formed a group called the “Radical Transformation of Work-Life Balance Structure” to investigate ways to enhance the overall culture within the organization. From there, they created a detailed proposal outlining several changes that would improve the employee experience, including switching to a 4-day workweek and introducing a “take what you need” PTO policy.

“I was part of the first Radical Transformation workgroup … Looking back, those conversations were the first steps towards meaningful reflection in our work culture,” says Emily McGranchan, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations. “For the organization to invite staff for feedback and innovative ideas is one thing. To have those recommendations taken seriously and now to have them implemented is empowering.”

Still, it took some time for everyone to get on board. After three surveys, multiple team meetings and the guidance of an external consultant, the plan finally began to materialize. By September 2022, 97% of staff supported the idea. Once everyone was clued in to the benefits, the next step was clear — it was time to reconstruct the workweek.

Making the switch

A transition like this doesn’t happen overnight. Many employees who experience intensive periods of work might find it challenging to switch to a 32-hour week while preparing for major events, like our annual Night at the Pier gala. For this reason, we are approaching the transition as a trial, which will run at least until June. In July, there will be time for everyone to step back and evaluate what was been successful about the trial and what hasn’t. From there, the organization will decide how to move forward.

“We will have many opportunities to test out the schedule before it becomes permanently implemented,” says Brandon Gill, Director of Human Resources and People Operations. “When we look back a year or so from now, we are confident that staff will reflect and be very grateful that this transition was made.”

An important aspect of this transition was the assurance that each employee’s salary will not be impacted by their reduced work schedule, which means staff will experience what amounts to a dollar-per-hour increase. No one should feel deterred from taking time away from work — rather, employees should feel empowered to prioritize their health and wellness, spend time with their loved ones or simply just rest. 

“Our concerns, hopes and honest feedback are heard,” says McGranachan. “I feel encouraged to continue to innovate and have open discussions of how we can continue to evolve as an organization that recognizes and celebrates the humanity of our team.”