Coming out of a year riddled with travel restrictions and quarantines, Americans are eager to spend their weekends outdoors and making memories with loved ones. Companies, especially in New York and big cities, are seeing the restlessness in their workforce that comes with short months of warm weather, amplified only by the ability to enjoy conveniences temporarily unavailable during the pandemic.
One of the ways that companies are appeasing their workforce’s seasonal travel itches and encouraging work/life balance after over a year of remote work is through the establishment of Summer Fridays, also known as Summer Hours. This policy consists of allowing employees to leave the workplace early on Fridays. to enjoy the sunshine and get a kickstart on their weekend while remaining available for urgent needs.
While employers might be eager to jump at the idea as a show of appreciation for their workforce after a tough year, questions remain in how to provide seasonal workplace flexibility while ensuring that output remains stable.
Below provides a breakdown of the concept and ways that employers can execute it effectively.
Why Should I Offer Summer Fridays?
Summer Fridays do wonders for the mental health and stress management of employees. They can take care of personal appointments, spend time with their families, and get a head start on scheduled trips without concern of using PTO hours. For many industries, especially those in client services, summer months tend to be “quiet,” and offering employees a reprieve when it’s feasible for business is a great way to avoid burnout during busier seasons.
Offering these perks is also a great way for companies to remain competitive when seeking new talent. At JK Exec, we find that candidates have two priorities when deciding on a job offer – the first being compensation, and the second being time off. Offering summer Fridays to supplement an existing PTO package is a great way to showcase positive culture and give your company the competitive edge when seeking top talent.
How Can I Continue to Run Business Effectively?
Transparency and trust are huge factors in ensuring that Summer Friday policies are effective and productive. Employers need to be clear with their workforce that leaving the office midday does not mean that they will be unreachable to colleagues or clients. If for any reason they anticipate being unreachable – that requires a PTO request.
For industries that remain busy between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are certain modifications that can be made to the policy to accommodate. For example, some businesses opt for alternating Summer Fridays, so that half of the workforce is present and available at any given time, or make all Fridays work remote days.
Some industries, like manufacturing, present unique challenges in introducing these perks. For example, line workers have a lot less flexibility than the company’s administrative staff. In these situations, it’s important to find other ways to show appreciation for members of the team that cannot enjoy this benefit. For example – offering a couple extra PTO days in the summer months to the workers unable to leave early on Fridays is a great compromise.
What’s The Catch?
As with any time that employees are given added freedoms in the workplace, there are rare occurrences when staff members will take advantage of them. Employers need to trust that their staff will do the right thing without checking in constantly. However, if you notice that an employee falls behind on work or isn’t reachable by the team, that should be dealt with personally with the employee to determine where the break in communication lies without penalizing the entire workforce.
However, even given this unfortunate possibility, the rewards of seasonal flexibility far outweigh the risks. Given the lack of workforce that American companies are experiencing, introducing new benefits like Summer Fridays to show your employees that they are trusted, appreciated, and valued can make a world of difference when it comes to the retention and acquisition of talented workers.