This temp staffing startup gave employees a 4-day workweek. Job applications spiked 230%

October 27, 2022, 11:54 AM UTC
4 day workweek illustration
A hospitality staffing app observed a 250% increase in job applications after transitioning to a shorter workweek.
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Good morning—Fortune writer Paige McGlauflin here! 

Earlier this spring, the Phoenix-based temporary hospitality staffing platform Qwick bet that a four-day workweek would help the company grow revenue and swell its job applicant pool as it scaled. The gamble seems to have paid off, the company says.

In April, I spoke with Qwick’s cofounder and CEO, Jamie Baxter, about his transition to a shorter workweek. The company had only recently emerged from a near collapse brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a deleterious effect on the hospitality industry. While Qwick has since recovered, reporting a 664% increase in revenue between 2020 and 2021, Baxter cited high levels of burnout among employees as the company grew. Qwick, in turn, piloted a four-day workweek from early April through June, which it’s now extended through July 2023.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to build the best team possible, and that means we’ve got to attract and retain the best talent,” Baxter told me last week. “The four-day workweek has really helped there.”

Since cutting the workweek short, the number of job applications Qwick receives has soared from around 400 monthly applications in April to 1,400 in May, a 230% increase. Baxter says the larger talent pool allows them to choose a higher caliber of talent.

“At all levels of our organization, we’re getting a plethora of people, and we get to choose from who we want to bring in versus [being] given a limited set of applications and choosing the best of the options that you have in front of you,” Baxter says. He points to the addition of Gint Grabauskas, formerly an executive at companies like GoDaddy and Offerpad and now Quick’s chief technology officer, as an example of the quality talent Qwick’s four-day workweek has attracted.

Morale has also increased. In an internal survey, the share of employees who reported feeling “well rested and ready for work on Monday mornings” increased by 32 percentage points to 96% during the fourth month of the pilot. Baxter likens the renewed vigor to coming back from a vacation feeling recharged. “You feel like anything that’s put in front of you, you can tackle, and we’re getting that weekly,” he says.

When we last spoke in April, Baxter hypothesized that the four-day workweek would boost year-over-year revenue growth. He expects it to top 200% by the end of 2022 but declined to share specific numbers for publication.

Though the pandemic-induced recession nearly shuttered Qwick’s doors, forcing it to lay off 80% of its staff, Baxter is optimistic going into the new year, despite an uncertain economic climate. “[I don’t think] this is going to affect us in the same way,” he says, noting that the pandemic was uniquely disastrous because Qwick’s business relies on the hospitality industry, much of which was inaccessible in 2020. 

In fact, Baxter believes Qwick’s model will sustain it through the next recession because more employers will opt to hire temporary staff over full-time employees. Over 45% of Qwick’s revenue comes from restaurants and hotels.

While the pilot has another 10 months to go, Baxter expects to make it permanent. Extending the pilot allows Qwick to better understand what a four-day workweek model looks like over an entire year and as the company expands its employee base of about 260 staffers. Other employers, including Kickstarter and Microsoft Japan, have also implemented four-day workweeks to boost productivity and retain talent.

“It’d be a far stretch to imagine us going back to a five-day workweek,” Baxter says. “This allows us to keep it as a pilot, make a few slight tweaks, and then make it permanent.”

One such tweak is smoothing out logistics for holiday weekends, which could further shorten an already truncated workweek. “We can’t do three-day weeks, five [or] six times a year,” Baxter says.

Next week, Qwick will celebrate its fifth anniversary. As the company sets sights on the next five years, Baxter is adamant that the shorter workweek will allow it to attract and retain talent while expanding operations.

“[A] four-day workweek allows us to continue sprinting,” he says. “Because it’s a marathon of sprints, not just one sprint that you have to keep going on forever.”

Paige McGlauflin

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