Lots of things are different in the summer, including the amount of time that people want to spend outside enjoying what the season has to offer. Summer schedules, a slight shortening of the work week, usually on Fridays, have been a staple at large corporations for years but it's an idea many small and midsize business owners often dismiss.
If you, or your company, is one of them you may, however, want to think again.
There is strong evidence that shorter summer work weeks benefit the employer as much as the employee.
CEB, the Arlington, Virginia-based research and consulting firm found that 55 percent of employees said that the flexibility to balance work and life is very important to job satisfaction, and that perks like summer schedules are almost as valuable to them as a raise.
You may think productivity will decrease with fewer hours. An Ohio University study found that not to be the case. Employees may be at work for eight or more hours a day, but they are productive for only two hours and fifty-three minutes a day and employees are significantly more distracted during the summer, so productivity is especially low at this time of the year.
Offering flexible summer hours may help counteract that. 66 percent of employees who have summer hours perks feel more productive as a result, according to a study performed by Opinion Research Corporation.
It works in real life too. Employees will get the required work done in fewer hours if a strong incentive is there, as Richard Branson has discovered since implementing an unlimited vacation plan.
What should a summer schedule look like for your company? There are no hard rules. Shorter Fridays are usually the most popular option, but there are other, slightly more creative strategies to consider, including all the following:
A Standard Summer Friday
Everyone comes in at the regular time, everyone leaves before lunch. If that's too much, try 'letting out' at three. Not quite as much of a perk perhaps but most employees will still be happy with it.
Shorter Hours on the Day of an Employee's Choice
A full company shutdown may be an impossibility for some companies. If that is the case allow employees to choose one afternoon a week for an early out. Require them to create a schedule and arrange coverage for their duties. Most companies find that employees are very cooperative with one another since their turn to ask for coverage is around the corner.
Work from Home Fridays
It may not be a day off but working from home does offer greater flexibility. It also eliminates the commute, which may add some "me time" to your employee's day.
Make Fridays Special
If a shorter work week is impossible or overwhelming to you, do something to brighten up summer Friday afternoons. A free lunch, themed days, a longer lunch break or even in-office massages are all ideas well worth considering.
Track the Results
Once you have determined the right summer schedule – or think you have – make sure you track the results. Ask for feedback from your employees, watch productivity levels, and change your policy accordingly. The whole process builds trust and results in happy employees and so is very much worth the effort.