HR Strategy

How one company created a four-day workweek program that works for its employees

Exos Chief People Officer Greg Hill tells HR Brew that his employees are “more energized, more motivated, more engaged.”
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3 min read

“You do you.” How often do you hear this phrase at work?

Employees at Exos hear it every Friday. In May 2023, the corporate wellness company launched a six-month, four-day workweek pilot program, during which its roughly 3,000 employees were able to choose how they spent their Fridays. Greg Hill, Exos’ chief people officer, told HR Brew the initiative was dubbed, “You Do You Fridays.”

As more companies implement four-day workweeks, or offer flexibility in how employees work on Fridays, leaders have noticed some surprising benefits, including improved productivity and mental and physical health, according to the World Economic Forum.

Since the Phoenix, Arizona-based company’s culture hinges on wellness, Hill said it felt natural to test out a shortened workweek. “We had tried half-day Fridays, summer Fridays, quiet Fridays,” Hill said, but “in a client/customer service business, it wasn’t working.” So, the company leaned into flexibility. “As long as you’re not interacting with other teammates within Exos, literally do you.”

Flexible work. Since the pilot took off, You Do You Fridays have looked different for employees across the organization. Corporate employees, Hill said, typically found it easier to take Fridays off, while non-corporate employees, including performance coaches, dieticians, and physical therapists who work with the company’s staff and clients—among them Pfizer, Adobe, and Humana—in 13 countries, needed more wiggle room.

“We have 60 sites who figured out some type of ‘You Do You’ day. It might not be Fridays…It could be Mondays, could be Wednesdays, or in many of our sites, they rotate so everybody’s not off that day,” Hill said. “They figured out how to put recovery, and intentional recovery coaching, into the day [and] into the week.”

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By the end of the pilot, Hill said, employees were overall, “more energized, more motivated, more engaged,” and their well-being and productivity had improved. And he has the data to prove it.

The data. During the pilot, Exos worked with the Wharton Business School researchers Adam Grant and Marissa Shandell, to analyze productivity through calendar audits to determine how and when employees were working. They also conducted six experience surveys that were, Hill said, “more Wharton-like than probably what an HR person would do,” since each asked roughly 80 questions.

Of the 1,000 employee respondents, the researchers found 91% said they were more productive with a flexible day, compared to 67% without it. And just 19% expressed dreading work, compared to 41% before the pilot.

Doing you now. While the pilot has technically ended, Hill said Exos is still calling the program a pilot, because teams are continuing to iterate on what works.

“Our sites are still figuring out how often, and when, to have team members in…whether that’s a Friday, or they come in Tuesdays, Thursdays, and our teams are working from home [on] Wednesdays, doing digital coaching,” he said. “Depending on what that site’s schedules are, their staffing needs are, and where they are, and how they want us to show up, we’re taking this playbook…to say, ‘How will it work here?’”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.