Bell Forest in Ishpeming implementing 4-day workweek

Bell Forest Products in Ishpeming
Bell Forest Products in Ishpeming(WLUC)
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:45 AM EDT
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ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - Bell Forest in Ishpeming announced on Thursday that the company will be implementing a shortened-hours 4-day workweek for all full-time employees beginning April 3, 2023.

All employees will move from five 8-hour days to four 9-hour days with no decrease in pay.

In a press release, Bell Forest said the announcement comes after months of preparation and a verbal commitment between the employees and business owners.

Bell Forest looks to become the first known business in Michigan to move to a shortened-hours 4-day workweek.

“When we first started talking about this, there was a lot of skepticism and doubt,” said Dana Ferguson, general manager at Bell Forest, “but with clear goals and teamwork we were able to show how much more we were capable of.”

During the two-month trial, all employees will work 90% (36 hours) of their original weekly hours while receiving 100% of their pay. In exchange for a shortened workweek, the employees have agreed to maintain 100% productivity.

Fulfillment of the 36 hours each week earns each employee four bonus hours added to their weekly total. After the trial, Bell Forest ownership and management will evaluate the program and, if it is deemed successful, decide if they can move to four 8-hour days (32 hours, with eight bonus hours each week.)

“There were obviously a lot of factors we had to consider before making this decision,” said Boone Bell, co-owner of Bell Forest. “This isn’t something you easily jump into as a business owner. Ultimately, we decided that our team was worth giving it a try.”

Previous international studies conducted over the past few years have shown companies which have attempted a shortened workweek have had many positive and beneficial results, including fewer missed days from illness, happier and more efficient workforce, and less burnout.

“I’m looking forward to having that extra day to get things done around the house and spend with family,” said Jerek Steinhausen, inventory manager at Bell, who is expecting his first child in June. “It’s nice having a small business like this offer such a rare opportunity, especially in a small town so close to home.”

Bell Forest, owned by Boone Bell and Eric Poirier, is a family business which recognizes the importance of all their employees. This trial is an example of the commitment by the employees to Bell Forest, and Bell Forest’s commitment to them.

“Boone and I are excited to offer this opportunity to our staff,” said Poirier. “With the efficiency upgrades and goals system that Dana has initiated, we are optimistic that the trial will be a success.”

“It is not too often you meet employers who recognize the value of their employees outside of the work they perform,” said Ferguson. “This type of partnership is a rarity, but one which hopefully becomes more commonly practiced. Responsible economics and caring for your employees are not mutually exclusive. All of us on the Bell Forest team are thankful that Boone and Eric understand that.”