Entrepreneur Jack Donohue says the best business decision he ever made was to reduce his company’s working week to four days.
Donohue is the founder and CEO of Knutsford-based Fairmont Recruitment, which specialises in the technology sector.
Fairmont Recruitment is four years old in April and is expected to have grown its workforce to 10 by then.
Donohue decided to change the company’s working model to Monday-Thursday at the height of the pandemic to protect his staff’s mental health and wellbeing.
He explains: “We realised the market had been pretty crazy for about a year and staff members were in danger of being burnt out very quickly.
“We were almost a victim of our own success. There’s a perception in recruitment that you have to be working long hours to be good at your job.
“I live my life by the motto ‘work smarter, not harder’. There are enough hours in the working day to get your stuff done.
“People say ‘you have to stay late to do a candidate interview’ but, in my experience, candidates don’t want to speak to recruiters at 7pm.”
Impact of technology
Donohue, 30, says technology has changed the landscape for recruiters.
“There are different ways and means to communicate with people through technology, be it instant messaging, different video platforms etc,” he says.
“One thing that allowed us to do the four-day week was using tech to automate many of our processes to do things better.
“I spoke to a good friend of mine who switched to four days a week at his consultancy and we discussed how it impacted on his staff and their productivity.
“In the end we took the plunge in July last year and it’s the best thing we ever did.”
Staff work 8.30am-5.30pm, Monday-Thursday, with no deduction in salary.
“People are getting an extra day to recover,” he says. “By the time they come into work on Monday morning they’re fully recharged and refreshed.”
Donohue says clients were kept fully informed of the changes.
“We contacted all our clients before we started and wrote them all a letter,” he says. “They were very supportive.
“The staff manage their own diaries. Occasionally a client might need to speak to them on a Friday but they would do it from home or from a beach rather than the office. We leave it up to them.
“As the founder I still work Fridays but I make sure I do the school and try and arrange any meetings for that day.”
Donohue has ambitions to grow Fairmont Recruitment internationally and plans to expand his own workforce.
“All staff at Fairmont Recruitment have a defined career progression plan,” he says. “We want to reward people. We want people to be really motivated in the business.
“Recruiting is an old school industry but there’s a lot of new technology you can put in it.”