Pitcured (L-R): Menzi Shabane (Sales Consultant), Angelo Cornelesen (Head of Sales Operations), and Snenhlanhla Nzama (Sales Consultant)
Leading KwaZulu-Natal global business services (GBS) provider, Rewardsco, is using a growing body of research that overturns the notion that the conventional eight-hour working day optimises productivity as the basis for its “Half Day, Double Pay” programme that offers its telesales agents the opportunity to earn a full salary for just 5.5 hours of work per day.
Dylan Koen, group commercial director, Rewardsco, says that the company is positioning itself to be an employer of choice in a sector where skills are in short supply and retention of talent is difficult, but imperative.
He points out that, internationally, it has emerged that hybrid employment models that intensify productivity over shorter working periods will be the order of the day for forward thinking companies such as Rewardsco. Eight-hour working days, which date back to the industrial revolution, are more habit than necessity.
While many companies the world over are beginning to implement a four-hour working week as opposed to the more conventional five, Rewardsco had opted to rather shorten the working day itself.
This is based on research by recruitment specialists Zippia that reveals that the average employee is only productive for around 4.8 hours of the working day. ¹
Based on this, Rewardsco’s cutting-edge programme offers telesales agents the freedom to work alternating morning and afternoon shifts without sacrificing their basic salaries or commission-earning potential.
“We have found an incredible formula that allows our people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t have been able to do working nine hours a day,” he explains.
The new dual shift programme was successfully trialled at the company’s Umhlanga head office at the beginning of this year. In response, to date, Rewardsco has seen a 15% increase in sales performance, a 10% increase in daily attendance and a 100% increase in data efficiencies. Staff commission pay outs have also grown.
The company is now rolling out the programme to a larger pool of 150 high-performing sales agents, with even more opportunities for expansion on the horizon for disciplined and motivated staff.
This research by Zippia is not alone in suggesting that shorter working hours increase productivity.
In 2017, a paper entitled Working Hours and Productivity, published in Labour Economics, showed that medium-skilled employees working in front of computers for more than 4.6 hours produced less output per hour due to fatigue. ¹ The study, which focused on a call centre in the Netherlands, also showed that, as the number of hours worked increased, the average handling time for a call also grew, meaning that agents became less productive as the day wore on.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Boston College, University College Dublin and Cambridge University, tracked employers instituting a shorter working day and showed that revenue had risen by 8% over the study period with burnout falling by two-thirds. ³
A further study, conducted in Iceland, concluded that a reduction in working hours maintained or increased productivity and service provision whilst also improving workers’ well-being and work-life balance. ⁴
Koen says that responding to this growing bank of research was part of Rewardsco’s culture, which focuses on investing in its greatest asset – its people.
“Coronavirus, which initially forced employees to work remotely, together with employees’ demand for a better work-life balance post pandemic, has intensified the need for a more flexible approach to working hours across the globe. As a result, companies across Europe and Australia are investigating everything from shorter working hours to weeks split between home and the office and even four-day working weeks,” he says.
In South Africa, where many employees are forced to spend far longer periods travelling to and from work and where long commutes prevent those in more rural environments from accessing work in cities, shorter working days could be even more important, Koen believes.
He adds that, as companies such as Rewardsco begin to export their services to countries with complementary time zones, efficient management of shifts and productivity could provide a competitive advantage and enable the local GBS sector to create more jobs for entry-level job seekers.
“Positive experience during the pandemic enabled Rewardsco to glean first-hand experience of the efficacy of a hybrid working environment and use this to its best advantage as it positions itself as a leading South African supplier of GBS services to the international market,” he notes.
In addition to supporting 1 900 employees and their families and being in the throes of recruiting a further 600, Rewardsco also has approximately 350 employees operating with work-from-home status.
“We’ve definitely taken something hugely positive out of this. With increasing online business, we have found that we are being requested to call people outside of conventional working hours. Because this is consent-driven and a customer wants to be phoned for a particular deal at a particular time, our work-from-home structures allow us to phone in the early mornings, during the evenings and on weekends,” says Koen.
- Zippia: https://www.zippia.com/advice/productivity-statistics/
- Labour and Productivity, Collewest and Sauerman, Labour Economics, Volume 47, August 2017.
- Forbes 2022: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenamcgregor/2022/11/30/new-research-offers-the-best-argument-yet-for-a-four-day-work-week/?sh=60a418f36339.
- Going Public: Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week – https://autonomy.work/portfolio/icelandsww/, June 2021..