Are summer hours right for your business? Here are the advantages of this schedule for your employees and tips for how to implement it.
With summer around the corner and the height of the pandemic behind us, companies are looking for ways to increase morale and boost employee engagement. There are some quick wins, like providing more team bonding opportunities or lunches, but there are other initiatives that make more of an impact.
Studies consistently find that a flexible work arrangement is one of the most valued benefits when evaluating a company. This is especially true post-pandemic. A 2022 WSJ.com report found that a whopping 95% of workers want flexible hours!
One way to provide more flexibility is to implement summer hours. Offering this type of perk will give your people longer weekends, more time to decompress, and a better work-life balance. Below we explore if you should implement summer hours, and what to consider when creating this new policy.
What are summer hours for companies?
Summer hours are when you give your employees time off, typically on Fridays, from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Some companies give the afternoon off, and other companies opt for the entire day. While companies offered summer hours before the pandemic, more companies explored this benefit over the last few years because fewer workers were taking time off.
The pros of implementing summer hours for employees
While you may be reluctant to give Fridays off or reduce working hours, there are many benefits to this type of policy.
1. It gives your workers more flexibility
While we’ve already covered this above, it’s worth highlighting its value in the eyes of your valued people. Rigid hours are a thing of the past (when and where possible). Of course, there are jobs that cannot accommodate flexible working hours, but many can.
If your company employs younger workers (Millennials and Gen Z), flexibility is even more important: According to a Wall Street Journal report, they ranked flexibility and adaptability as the most important employee characteristics for a successful business!
If your company employs younger workers (Millennials and Gen Z), flexibility is even more important.
Moreover, even mentioning the word “flexibility” catches young workers’ attention: Millennials are 30% more likely to engage with a company’s LinkedIn post if it mentions “flexibility” relative to the average company post, and people in Gen Z are 77% more likely.
2. Summer hours can increase staff morale
Many managers report that summer hours (sometimes referred to as summer Fridays) increase the morale of their workforce. According to KPMG, it’s a “win-win for the company and its employees. Their satisfaction goes way up when they have control over their time. And it increases employee morale and productivity and retention.”
Many employees with families will be happy knowing they can spend time with their children, who are likely on their summer break and home from school.
A related point is that summer hours show that you trust your employees, which in turn can increase morale. Letting your people get their work done on a schedule that suits them best shows mutual respect. After all, according to our People Ops pillars, your employees are adults who should be trusted to get their work done, as long as they’re meeting their deadlines.
3. Productivity won’t necessarily take a hit
You may be thinking that fewer hours means you’ll get less output, but this is not necessarily true. One study found that 66% of employees reported feeling more productive, not less, when given summer hours/Fridays. One reason could be that employees feel more rested, and better able to tackle their week and deliver their work.
If you’re a billable company and believe that you’ll need the same hours worked throughout the summer, one way to implement summer hours is to have them work a bit more Monday-Thursday in order to take Friday off. That being said, it’s not the best way to offer summer hours, since not every hour worked is a productive hour anyway.
The idea should be that as long as deadlines are met, everyone can enjoy summer hours. And deadlines will likely be met if the incentive, like reduced hours, is strong enough.
4. Your people will be healthier
Summer hours can be a tool to help combat burnout and stress, which contribute to your employees’ well-being and overall health. People, especially remote workers, are suffering from burnout at alarmingly high rates: 79% of remote workers in a Bamboo HR study say they feel burned out monthly, 53% weekly, and 21% daily. This is because people constantly feel connected to work, even at the end of the day.
In another bleak discovery, an Australian study found that 26% of workers felt “obligated” to check messages even when off-duty. Moreover, 56% of workers felt psychological distress, 61% felt “emotionally exhausted,” and 28% said they were in poor physical health.
One significant way to combat stress and burnout is to help employees achieve a better work-life balance through reduced hours. Your people will have more time to spend with their families, especially since summer is when children have summer vacation. Other people will also value these well-deserved 3-day weekends to decompress!
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Ways to implement summer hours at your company
If you’re interested in implementing summer hours, there are a few ways you can go about this:
- Working more hours to get Fridays off: As outlined above, this is one way to approach this if you’re a company with billable hours.
- Giving Fridays off: The most generous option.
- Giving every other Friday off: You could alternate which group of employees gets a Friday off if you need support Monday-Friday.
- Half-day Fridays: Your people could take the afternoons off. This would also help to accommodate billable resources, so you’d only be losing a few hours per week.
After a difficult few years, people, for the most part, have been expected to carry on as usual. Implementing summer hours could be the initiative that helps prevent your people from burning out or leaving. While there are important considerations to factor in (schedules, billable hours, support, etc.), there are several ways to offer this type of flexibility to your valued workforce.