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Grant Thornton makes 9-day fortnight permanent


The mid-tier accounting firm will continue to refine its approach to the shortened working week, citing encouraging results from its 12-month trial.

By Nick Wilson 12 minute read

Grant Thornton has announced it will make its 9-day working fortnight permanent after a productive and profitable 12-month trial.

The firm commenced its trial in the hopes it would improve the mental wellbeing, engagement, and retention of its employees while delivering on client experience and work quality.

One year later, an internal engagement survey and financial reports revealed that “key indicators” including productivity, retention, and profits suggested the trial was worth making permanent.


An overwhelming 94 per cent of employees supported carrying on with the 9-day week, while 85 per cent said it had improved their wellbeing.

A further 83 per cent said it had positively influenced their desire to work at the firm, while 84 per cent said it encouraged them to recommend their employer to family and friends as a “great place to work.”

“In a short amount of time, the 9-Day Fortnight has achieved many of its goals and our people are keen to retain its benefits,” said Greg Keith, Grant Thornton CEO, “Happy people do great work.”

Keith added the trial had encouraged staff to deliver extra discretionary effort for clients and had served as an incentive for staff to find efficiencies.

“While this is an incredible position to be in, we feel there is still a lot of work to do to ensure recharge time is equitable across all service lines,” he said.

“This is a huge change management piece, and we are the first to say we haven’t quite nailed it yet as we need to keep the trial mentality and explore ways to ensure recharge time is more fairly accessed. It is a work in progress, but our people want it and it is definitely worth striving for.”

When it comes to introducing flexibility in the way its employees work, Grant Thornton is certainly not alone.

Last year, Findex Group’s auditing arm, Crowe Australasia introduced a permanent 9 day week of its own, after a 6 month trial proved successful.

The firm’s “Flex Your Friday” trial was the first of its kind for a large accounting operation, and quickly became standard practice for its 340 employees after the trial was announced.

A survey of Crowe Australasia’s employees found that 85 per cent supported the shorter fortnight, encouraging it to implement a similar trial across its wealth division.

The case for a shorter working week has taken on steam in the last few years, with particular growth towards the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic as employers looked to woo their staff back to the office.

Productivity is typically touted as the main benefit of a shortened working week. The idea is that employees will be better equipped to perform their work with a less demanding schedule, while also serving as a kind of quid-pro-quo for harder work.

One Icelandic study, conducted over four years from 2015 found that workplaces that cut their working weeks by approximately 12 per cent while offering the same pay either became more productive or remained equally as productive as before.

Accounting workers involved in the study processed 6.5 per cent more invoices in an average week after shortening their working hours.

Research has also shown that shortening the working week can encourage employees to cut back on inefficiencies, such as unnecessary or excessively long meetings.

Beyond boosting productivity by leaving workers more time to carry on with their core duties, cutting back on meetings can help to boost employee morale.

Research from the Harvard Business Review found that 92 per cent of employees consider meetings “costly and unproductive,” leading to what has been dubbed “Zoom fatigue.”

Respondents across 76 companies who reduced meetings by 40 per cent recorded a 71 per cent increase in productivity, and a 52 per cent increase in employee satisfaction.

“Although building trust and achieving cohesion relies on the frequency and quality of a team’s interactions, meetings are no longer the best way for newly promoted managers to accomplish those things,” the study found.

“In fact, there are much more effective ways to develop bonds in the absence of face-to-face meetings — including having less meetings altogether.”

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