police car
The Golden Police Department is piloting a four-day workweek, where all full-time employees are working four days and 32 hours a week with no change in pay. The trial period started July 10 and runs through Dec. 31. Credit: File photo by Corinne Westeman

Three months into the Golden Police Department’s four-day workweek trial, and “everything indicates this is going fantastically,” Chief Joe Harvey said.

Response times are the same or slightly better than last year’s. Overtime spending is down 80% from the same period in 2022. Retention has improved, and employees have shared that they’re less stressed.

Plus, as City Manager Scott Vargo said, it’s been “seamless to the general public.”

During a Nov. 9 meeting, Vargo and Harvey went over the data the city collected during the first three months of the six-month trial. It started July 10 and will run through Dec. 31.

The city will host a public meeting on the entire trial Feb. 8.

Since July 10, all full-time GPD employees have worked a 4-32 schedule — four days and 32 hours for the week — with no change in pay.

The police department was chosen to test the schedule because it already collects productivity data that could serve as a baseline. It’s also a “microcosm of city government,” Vargo previously stated, with various shift schedules and work environments.

Vargo emphasized during the Nov. 9 meeting that the trial’s focused on a compressed and efficient workweek, “not working less and doing less.” GPD employees have focused on cutting down the number of and the length of meetings, and streamlining their activities while they’re at work, he said.

During its four-day workweek trial period, the Golden Police Department’s average response times have improved from the same period in 2022. However, department officials caution that there are many variables that impact response time averages, such as location of calls, traffic and weather conditions. Credit: Courtesy graphic

“The entire goal of this exercise is to figure out if we can … be more productive during that shortened period of time,” Vargo continued.

Depending how the rest of the trial period goes, Vargo said the city could expand this to other city departments and divisions. He said that would ultimately be a staff decision, but he would want City Council’s support, just as it supported hosting this six-month trial.

Work smarter, not harder

By all accounts, GPD employees love the 4-32 schedule.

In a city-produced video, four employees across the department shared how it’s allowed them to spend more time with their families. They’re able to attend their children’s soccer games and hockey practices, and take care of their aging parents.

It’s also allowed an extra day for self-care, and scheduling doctor’s appointments and other errands that typically eat into the workweek, which Harvey said he’s taken advantage of personally.

He also shared how it’s helped with recruiting and retention. He said one of his newest employees wanted to work in Golden specifically because of the 4-32 schedule, and that some current employees who were considering retirement or leaving for other departments have now decided to stay at GPD.

He said, overall, employees have shared that they feel better, mentally and physically. They’re less stressed; they sleep better; and they have more time to work out.

During its four-day workweek trial period, Golden Police Department employees have taken weekly pulse surveys, indicating on a scale from 1 to 100 how satisfied they are with their schedules. The lowest collective number has been 89 in Week 2. Credit: Courtesy graphic

In weekly pulse surveys asking employees how they feel about the 4-32 schedule, the lowest collective number was 89 on a scale of 100. Vargo pointed out that the number “usually hovers around 96.”

Harvey said his employees are committed to seeing the 4-32 schedule succeed and continuing to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

“We want this to stay,” Harvey said, quoting GPD employees.

Next steps

Going forward, Vargo said the city will continue monitoring GPD’s data, including the amount of sick time taken, the flexibility of schedules and remote work, and its team environment.

Vargo pointed out that some employees shared there’s been an “impact to their connectedness.” With shorter overlaps, they don’t see the leadership team members as frequently. But, GPD’s accommodating for this by staggering schedules now, he said.

Once the six-month trial is over, Golden will evaluate whether to continue the 4-32 schedule with modifications, expand it to other departments, or discontinue it. While the data’s been favorable so far, Vargo said he needs data from the full six months “before we can make any kind of a commitment.”

The Golden Police Department is piloting a four-day workweek, where all full-time employees are working four days and 32 hours a week with no change in pay. The trial period started July 10 and runs through Dec. 31. Credit: File photo by Corinne Westeman

However, city departments have started talking about what kind of data they need to start collecting now in case they want to implement a 4-32 schedule as well.

If the city expands the schedule to other departments, Vargo said Golden wouldn’t close its offices on Fridays. Instead, it’d stagger schedules just as GPD has done with its customer-service-based employees.

Vargo has said before how Golden wants to be “the employer of choice.” If a four-day workweek helps improve recruitment and retention as GPD’s anecdotal data indicates, he believed it could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in hiring, retraining and lost productivity.

For more information on the city’s four-day workweek trial, visit GuidingGolden.com/the-best-for-golden.

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