Sandhills Global shortened its work week. For Lincoln company and employees, productivity remains strong

Sandhills Global shortened its work week. For Lincoln company and employees, productivity remains strong

Progress: Sandhill Global, 2.6

Tyler Schik, a sales representative at Sandhills Global, said the company’s move to shorten the work week has been great for employees. Managers say productivity has remained strong.

Tyler Schik likes to spread joy during his free time.

For the past six years or so, Schik and his chow shepherd Tank have visited hospice patients at centers like Tabitha for pet therapy sessions.

The visits, however, haven’t always fit in with his busy work schedule as a sales rep at Sandhills Global. That was until the Lincoln-based publishing company sent an email last fall to employees announcing a surprising change: Sandhills was moving to a 4 ½-day work week.

The shortened schedule has given Schik and his coworkers more time to do the things they love, which in Schik’s case includes making visits to hospice patients.

“For me personally, it’s been really great,” said Schik, who has worked at Sandhills for 11 years.

In an age where job candidates have become harder to find, Sandhills took the bold step to shorten its work week by a half-day last fall to boost its recruitment and retention efforts, said Chief Administration Officer Nancy Paasch. The move comes as shorter work weeks and flexible hours have become increasingly appealing for companies looking to entice talent — and even increase productivity.

Progress: Sandhill Global, 2.6

Sandhills Global employs more than 1,200 workers, including 800 in its Lincoln office.

“Obviously in the Lincoln market, it is fairly competitive to find good talent,” Paasch said. “This idea came up of moving to a 4 ½-day work week.”

Under the new schedule, employees are essentially able to take a half-day off anytime during the week, as long as it’s arranged in advance. Sandhills has roughly 1,200 employees, including 800 based out of its Lincoln office.

“That’s their time they can use to run errands, attend appointments or use the flex (time) for what they need,” Paasch said. “It was received with great excitement, and a little bit of shock.”

Kelli Krzycki, a department manager, has used the extra time off to go to events at her children’s school she otherwise might have missed.

Progress: Sandhill Global, 2.6

Kelli Krzycki, a department manager, works at her desk at Sandhills Global.

“Before, we had to use vacation if we were going to cut into our day. Having that half-day to kind of adjust your schedule throughout the week and make plans based on that has been super helpful,” Krzycki said. “I think it’s a great perk.”

Many employees will use it to extend their weekend, attend sporting events or even hit the golf course, Schik said. In addition to using the time off for volunteer work, Schik uses it for whatever odds and ends he needs to take care of.

“Everybody’s got their little niche for what they use it for,” he said.

Truncating the work week — in many cases to four days — has increasingly gained momentum in recent years as a way to boost employee morale and even productivity.

Progress: Sandhill Global, 2.6

Recruiting intern Morgan Perez (left) talks with recruiting specialist Ali Cottrell at Sandhills Global on Feb. 6.

A 2022 study by 4 Day Week Global — a nonprofit that supports companies interested in shortening the standard 40-hour work week — showed positive results in revenue, recruitment, productivity and health.

Two-thirds of employees at companies that instituted a four-day work week for six months said they were less burned out. Businesses also reported an increase in the overall number of workers.

Among the employees she oversees at Sandhills, Kryzycki said the response has been great.

“Productivity is just as high as it was before,” she said.

Paasch said there has been “a lot more interest” in full-time positions, but whether a similar model can work elsewhere depends on the type of business, she added.

Progress: Sandhill Global, 2.6

Recruiting intern Tyler Mitchell is one of 800 employees based out of Sandhills Global’s offices in Lincoln. Employees are expected to work on location but are allowed a half-day off each week.

Sandhills, which has published niche trade magazines for decades, is also home to a burgeoning online auction business, connecting buyers and sellers of farm equipment, cars, collectibles and more.

Unlike some businesses that have become more flexible with work-from-home schedules, employees are expected to be in the office, which Sandhills found is better for collaboration and communication, Paasch said.

But those mornings or afternoons that Schik can get out of the office have left him and his coworkers feeling recharged when they come back to work.

“Everybody is just as efficient or even more efficient,” Schik said. “I feel more locked in when I’m here.”

The work from home revolution might be disappearing, but the 4-day workweek is only just beginning. Veuer’s Tony Spitz has the details. 

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