Humanise Collective gives staff every tenth day off

A new policy at the group of agencies could be the first step in a transition to an even more flexible way of work.

Humanise-20When Valérie Provost (pictured, right) joined the Humanise Collective as its head of talent and culture nearly four years ago, she had the ambition to introduce a new working model that would better maintain the work-life balance of Collective employees by allowing them to work nine of ten days, then take the tenth off.

“This was always a model I wanted to bring in and test out in the industry. I knew it hadn’t been done at this level before – some agencies had done it with individuals, but this was something I wanted to try with a team, or even more, but there was always apprehension in regards to flex models,” she says. “People at agencies work a lot, there’s always a lot of work, and the concern was how could we expect them to work fewer hours and still have the same productivity?”

That was 2018. Now, in 2022, the world is entering its third year grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many agencies have turned their focus to flexible or hybrid work models, for which employees have voiced widespread desire. Further, the Great Resignation – and the need to strengthen employee retention and recruitment – has leaders across the industry experimenting with many different models that satisfy talent’s need for better work-life balance.

At the Humanise Collective, the narrative is no different. And to address that, it is giving employees every tenth day off across several of its companies, including Bleublancrouge, Glassroom, U92, Gestion Police and L’Institut Idée.

“There’s a big talent war in the market right now, and so we had to find a way to retain and attract people by offering them more flexibility,” explains Provost.

Provost’s 9/10 model began as a pilot project for Bleublancrouge’s brand language team. “They had an issue with retention of talent, so we decided to test it first with them for almost 18 months to make sure we had extensive data on productivity, profitability and retention in the department,” she says. “That ended in the fall and the observations were all very positive.”

“People said it changed their life and improved their work-life balance. They were more productive in their work and more focused, and they were willing to do an extra amount during work days because they knew they had that extra day off coming,” says Provost. “We saw a big impact on retention, too. We did lose a few employees, but before the project, turnover was much higher.”

The pilot also saw improvement in employee well-being and absenteeism – namely, there were fewer sick days taken.

“When we presented the data from the project to the different entities within the Collective, a lot of them wanted to try it out for their team,” says Provost. And so her ambition was realized: the Collective has now adopted the 9/10 model across its operations.

A four-day work week has come up frequently as a potential way to ease the stress and workloads of talent. While Humanise is, in effect, providing a four-day week twice a month, it is going to examine its success with 9/10 before deciding whether this is the first step toward something even bigger.

“We’re open to trying other models, but we’re just trying to be safe and make sure that we have success with the program,” she explains. “We’ll start with this and see if it’s realistic to try an even more flexible schedule. This is the first step.”