Ask anyone how their weekend was and you might hear, "It wasn't long enough."
How many have uttered those words? After a five-day work week, two days off for the weekend often times doesn't feel like enough. We occasionally get to enjoy the bliss of a three-day weekend with holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day.
But for the 24 employees at Marietta-based Galt Pharmaceuticals, there's a three-day weekend every week.
Co-founder and CEO Barry Patel and his executive team decided to move to a three-day weekend in July as a retention and recruitment solution, according to Tracey DeFine, VP of corporate systems and the "brainchild" behind the policy at Galt.
"We’re a smaller company, relatively speaking to the other pharma companies," Patel said. "To bring on talent, because we are hiring for various positions and growing, we need to look for different ways to appeal to the people we want."
When the pandemic first hit, Patel said Galt Pharma was initially ruled as a non-essential business and the company was locked out of their offices for at least eight weeks. The staff had to quickly learn to work from home and work as a team remotely.
"We maintained work from home schedules to ensure supply chains weren’t disrupted," he said. "We implemented a very flexible schedule."
DeFine said she thought it would be the perfect time to start implementing the four-day work week, a policy and perk she's been promoting for years.
"I have worked for Barry and other companies, and I have been a proponent of a four-day work week for a very long time," she said. "Balance; there’s a lot of flexibility it provides an individual and with balance comes increased productivity and the opportunity for people to take a deep breath, settle and tap into those creative thoughts and ideas. Those things don’t happen when you're stressed and toiling over a project, they happen when your mind goes free. Productivity and creativity to a company are priceless. To be able to generate new ideas ... I have felt that way for a very, very long time. The great resignation I think was the recent catalyst for presenting it to the executive team here at Galt."
The great resignation, as it's been dubbed by labor and financial experts alike, is a wave of resignations happening in the workspace across America as people reevaluate their values at home, work and in life as a result of circumstances created by the pandemic. Job openings have reached a record high and employees are leaving the workplace en masse. Nearly 4 million people quite their jobs in July, an increase from 3.87 million in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary released in September.
"The estimates are on the low end; 30 percent of people are either going to leave the workforce or find new jobs," DeFine said. "We can’t afford to lose one person, let alone 30 percent."
After DeFine approached the Galt Pharma executives about implementing a 36-hour, four-day work week, with Friday through Sunday off, Patel said they looked at the data before making the call.
"(Through) employee engagement, we did some analytics on how it could positively impact us from a productivity standpoint," Patel said. "We all looked at that and said this is a no-brainer for us. We’re definitely a for-profit organization, but we can still do that while having a work-life balance."
About 75 percent of Galt employees are under the age of 40, Patel said. They desire flexibility in the workspace, especially since the the start of the pandemic, he said.
"We’re constantly on with our devices and computers and the pressure of having to respond to an email at 8 p.m. at night … it just becomes relentless," he said of the digital working culture of today's modern world. "(Now they can) take a day off and take the time to recharge."
Because of Galt's franchising model and the personnel on staff, DeFine said it was an easy decision to move to a four-day work week.
"It wasn't a risky decision for us at all," she said.
So far, employees have reported no drops in productivity, while engagement and morale among the staff is as high if not higher than it has been, according to DeFine.
"I still feel strongly that it was a good decision," she said. "I do hear more about people talking about what they are doing with their extra day. One of our staff members is a new grandfather and so his daughter has enlisted him to stay home with his granddaughter every Friday. You don’t get those chances with a five-day week. I think that’s just incredible."
"It was amazing," Patel said of the response from his staff. "I didn’t even think we would get such ecstatic responses and excitement over it. We already love working here and this is just another reason to love it more because this does allow us to recharge better. Even some of the more old-school employees who like the structure of the five-day week … They’ve come back a couple weeks into it and said, 'Now I’ve found time to babysit my granddaughter.'"
DeFine said other employees have shared how they're spending their extra day off — from training for a marathon to spending time with family to working on investments.
"Personally, I am working on a lot more of my DIY projects, and I feel much more balanced with the time that I have for home and for work," she said.
Despite having a busy schedule and many projects scheduled for Q4, Patel said Galt Pharma is right on track to maintain that schedule with the four-day work week and even work ahead.
"I’m looking at it for productivity as a business owner, (but I also see) the pep in everyone’s step, that’s a bonus, right?," he said. "We get to truly see that people are energetic, it feels like there really is a bit more energy around."
When asked if she thought most companies would eventually move to a four-day work week, DeFine said that it's up to each business to evaluate their needs and, "it's certainly not a one size fits all."
"I think we’re able to move a lot quicker than a very large organization," she said. "I would encourage every company to consider it because the flexibility and engagement from a wellbeing standpoint are immeasurable. I think what happens though honestly ... we get stuck in routines and when we consider something very different, that gets risky."
DeFine said the four-day work week was a good move for Galt Pharma, and would encourage any company to consider working in some kind of flexibility in the workplace.
"Especially during these times when there’s a lot of uncertainty and pressure at home, schools closing and quarantines, any number of things," she said. "With any kind of investment as a business, investing in your employees is probably one of the best things to do."
Patel said Galt Pharma has always maintained a culture of family first and basing their decisions on outcomes.
"We're continuing to grow and move at a grassroots level," Patel said. "That’s why we do need everything it takes to bring on the right kind of talent, and the way we do that is the culture of being a fun environment and family-friendly business that they can be happy to be at."