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Ilitaqsiniq pilots four-day workweek

Move to encourage cultural connection, compete for staff
Adrianna Kusugak, executive director of Ilitaqsiniq, speaks during a panel on Inuit opportunity at the 2022 Kivalliq Trade Show in Rankin Inlet. The nonprofit organization is piloting a four-day workweek, with no extra hours taken on in those four days for staff, as a means of attracting talent and allowing employees to spend time engaging in their culture this summer. Stewart Burnett/NNSL file photo

To help employees connect with their cultural roots, enjoy the sun and retain skilled staff, Ilitaqsiniq is piloting a four-day workweek over the summer.

“We’re always looking to be cutting edge, and we’re firm believers in our innovative approach to things,” said executive director Adriana Kusugak.

Kusugak had been researching four-day workweek studies and reading positive reports, so she brought the concept to senior management and then the board of directors for Ilitaqsiniq, who all supported running a pilot project for the non-profit. Working with human resource specialists, Ilitaqsiniq developed the pilot model and a series of ways to track, monitor and review its success.

“The whole goal behind this four-day workweek is to support our employees, to help them restore their mental health and wellness,” said Kusugak.

And this isn’t one of those four-day workweeks that tacks on an extra two hours each day. The organization has opted to follow the 100-80-100 model, which means 100 per cent salaries, 80 per cent hours and 100 per cent effort. Staff will be working Monday to Thursday at regular hours but paid for five days of work.

“We’re essentially giving them an additional day off on Fridays,” said Kusugak.

And it’s not only for the employees’ wellbeing: it’s also a pitch to retain and recruit staff in a difficult hiring environment.

“It is also an opportunity to be used as a recruitment and retainment tool,” said Kusugak. “Because we are a not-for-profit organization at Ilitaqsiniq, we can’t compete in some ways with other organizations, but one way that we can is by being creative and innovative and that’s where the four-day work week comes in.”

Hiring is difficult worldwide, in all industries and contexts, said Kusugak.

“Our goal as always is to recruit Inuit who are passionate about serving Nunavummiut,” she said. “If we can use this pilot to support that, then we’re all for it.”

More than anything, though, the goal is for staff to have extended weekends over the summer to engage in Inuit cultural practices, enjoy the sun and connect with family.

“We want to give our staff the opportunity to engage in that because they’ll be using all that learning and information in their programs anyway,” said Kusugak.

The pilot runs May 8 to September 1. Through it, staff will be tracking their work and how they’re feeling about the initiative. Afterward, Ilitsqsiniq will digest the information, analyze it and produce some reports of the findings.

“The goal would be to do it more than once,” said Kusugak, if the data and feedback support it. “I think in order to really research something, you have to do it more than once to prove anything.”

The ultimate goal, she said, is to make the four-day workweek from May to September part of the organization’s workplace policy.

As Ilitaqsiniq prides itself on being forward-thinking, the non-profit will also be sharing its results with other employers in the territory – despite being competitors – to potentially encourage them to implement a similar policy as well.

“Our whole goal as an organization is to empower Nunavummiut,” said Kusugak.