Capri Communities testing four-day work week, giving caregivers 52 paid days off each year

NOW: Capri Communities testing four-day work week, giving caregivers 52 paid days off each year

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Caregivers at Village Pointe Commons in Grafton are getting paid the same to work less.

Capri Communities is testing a four-day work week, giving its caregivers 52 paid days off each year.

"Caregiving is hard and the healthcare field is hard, and we can't necessarily give them the perks we give everybody else," Village Pointe Commons Executive Director Crystal Fiano said.

The program launched on Jan. 8 at Village Pointe Commons in Grafton and Harbor Campus in Port Washington. 

"They work four eight-hour shifts, and they get paid for a fifth free bonus shift," Fiano said.

The new schedule was made possible because of a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). 

A DHS spokesperson told CBS 58 one in four direct caregiver positions are vacant.

"We are projected to need an additional 20,000 home care workers by 2024," Elizabeth Goodsitt, a DHS spokesperson, said.

DHS awarded $17.3 million to nearly 70 organizations through the grant for developing innovative ways to address the workforce crisis.

Grant funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act, according to DHS.

Fiano said she's seen a positive reaction from employees, who are using the extra day off to make appointments and spend time with family.

"It took a little while for everybody to kind of like believe it," Fiano said.

It's too early to tell if Capri Communities will see long-term success, but Regional Director of Operations Megan Kirchner said the company has already noticed an increase in recruitment.  

"We are seeing a lot of caregivers who are looking to make the change," Kirchner said. 

The four-day work week is a model some companies around the world are either shifting to or thinking about.

"This is an emergent trend and one that really should continue to be watched and studied," Vice President of Clinical Innovations at Rogers Behavioral Health Dylan Ross said.

Ross told CBS 58 studies show cutting back the work week is improving employee mental health. 

"Reduced stress, which is well known of course to reduce burnout and have broader health benefits," Ross said. 

Depending on the industry, Ross said studies show the schedule may have some tradeoffs.

"Some employees report increased amount of stress to try to complete all the tasks within a shorter period of time," Ross said.

Regardless of schedule, Ross said it's important for employers to prioritize their employees' mental health.

"If we have an unhealthy work force not only do we see an increase in terms of use of sick leave, both absenteeism and presenteeism, it also drives improved employee engagement, employee retention, as well as improved productivity," Ross said.

Capri Communities will continue to roll out the new program to its other campuses.

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