A French company switches to a 4-day week
The company Griffon Marine, in Chanverrie in the Vendée region of western France, specializing in high-end nautical furnishings, has been offering its employees the option of working four days a week since October 2022, with each employee having the choice of working between 35 hours and 40 hours from Monday to Thursday. Closing on Fridays has resulted in less absenteeism, less fuel consumption and lower energy costs. Etienne Boudelier, the general manager, explains that Friday has become a holiday like Saturday and Sunday for the company’s 55 employees.
For example, this day allows Stacy, one of the employees, to take her children to school later that day and to gain a few hours of extracurricular time. The general manager arrived at the company created six years ago with the conviction that it is the succession of human values that make the quality of the products and that it is necessary to know how to reward this, whereas the human aspect did not seem to him to be at the heart of the priorities of the large company of the nautical sector in which he worked during ten years previously.
He specifies that at Griffon Marine a boat goes out in eight months but that he never puts pressure on a numerical objective and prefers to reward because he is convinced that when you can take the time, that you do quality work, that you are happy to come to work, you will give yourself twice as much to succeed.
The company, which has an annual turnover of €4.7 million, has added to the benefits it already offers, such as vacation vouchers, luncheon vouchers, a 6% pay rise in January and a €600 coaptation bonus for an employee bringing someone into the company who is to be recruited, with a 4-day working week since October 2022.
Etienne Boudelier had been thinking about this idea for some time, when Prime Minister Élizabeth Borne indicated in September that a collective effort should be made to reduce energy consumption by 10%. It decided to take this opportunity to reinvent itself and brought the employees together.
All the work contracts were based on a 35-hour week with the possibility of working 5 hours overtime on Friday mornings, a choice retained by 80% of them. He then proposed to switch to a 4-day week by eliminating Fridays and highlighted energy savings estimated at €35,000 for an energy bill that went from €50,000 to €200,000 in one year, three-day weekends for employees and a gain of about 20% on fuel consumption thanks to the elimination of one home-work round trip per week. The proposal was accepted, subject to a certain amount of flexibility being put in place.
The adjustments concerned the time of hiring and firing, as well as the lunch break. Etienne Boudelier explains that employees used to all arrive at 7:30 am, but now they can arrive either at 7:00 am or 7:30 am and leave between 4:45 pm and 6:00 pm. The lunch break can be 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 1.5 hours with an additional 10-minute break in the morning and afternoon. The company has installed a time clock for employees who have now made the individual choice to work 35H, 38H or 40H per week.
Everyone is a winner, some who used to work 40 hours a week have switched to 38 hours and are financially better off by saving on travel time, and 70% of employees have decided to work 40 hours. One of the employees, Marielle, recognizes that it takes some getting used to because at the beginning it is more tiring but it allows her to spend more time with her children and to take appointments on Fridays.
Another employee, Christian, confirms that the days are longer but the Friday holiday allows him to do more work on the weekend. As the sector is in full employment, the company is experiencing difficulties in recruiting and Etienne Boudelier notes that the 4-day week is an advantage for recruiting, for retaining employees and limits absenteeism.
Leave a Reply