Should I offer summer Fridays to my employees?

Many company managers offer their employees an altered summer work schedule that gives them time off on Fridays. Doing so is practical if business tends to slow down at this time of year. Also, giving time off on a beautiful, sunny day builds company morale. Workers can finally get to that project that’s been sitting in the garage, head to the beach, or go on a weekend family road trip.

A summer hours work schedule benefits both employees and employers. The staff gets a better work-life balance, which makes them more engaged during work hours, and employers get more loyal and productive employees. With less stress, workers are less likely to fall ill, decreasing the company’s health plan costs. With nobody using electricity in the building on Fridays, the company may also save money on operation costs.

Most businesses start summer Fridays on Memorial Day and switch back to regular work hours after Labor Day. Aside from getting a longer weekend, the most appealing part of the shorter work week is the paid time off. The finance department doesn’t issue a pay cut or deduct hours from the employees’ allotted vacation time or sick days. Wondering how to make summer Fridays a reality for your organization? Read on to learn about the different types of work schedules and how to put them into place.

Summer hours work schedule

Changing the schedule, even temporarily, may seem like a daunting task at first. However, putting new rules into place isn’t so difficult when you communicate clearly with your employees and follow a few basic tips. You also have many types of work schedules to choose from; at least one of them should work well for your company. Get started with this list of ideas.

Types of schedules

The best type of summer hours work schedule differs from company to company. Do you need employees to be available during all business hours, or can you shut the doors for the day? Are you looking to save on overhead costs, such as electricity, or do you rent a shared work space where utilities are all-inclusive? Is the new schedule optional or mandatory? Answering these questions is key when putting together a summer hours policy.

Work extra hours and get Friday off

One popular option is offering all employees the day off on Fridays if they make up the hours earlier in the week. The advantages are numerous: employees feel more in control of their hours, the work still gets completed, and shutting down the office for a day may save on overhead costs. Exactly how they make up the hours is your choice. Depending on what works best for everyone, workers could come in early, stay late, or do both.

Work a half day on Friday

If giving a full day off isn’t feasible, consider giving employees the afternoon off. This option works well if certain tasks must be completed every morning or if the afternoon is so slow that sticking around after lunch isn’t worth it. With a half workday, the work is still completed, yet the staff still gets to start the weekend early.

Get every other Friday off

Does your organization need to stay open on Friday? You can give your employees a summer hours work schedule and still have workers available to answer the phone, meet with clients, or complete time-sensitive work. Simply schedule half the employees to get Friday off one week, and then give everyone else the next Friday off. Everyone gets a break this way, and the company still operates as usual.

Don’t work extra hours and still get Friday off

Few workers are lucky enough to get paid Fridays off without making up the hours earlier in the week. If you’re willing and able to provide such a generous Summer-Friday schedule to your employees, they’ll be the envy of all their friends. Whether this option works for your business or not largely depends on how heavy a workload you’re expecting.

Work flexible hours

If you’re not able to execute any of the above schedule ideas, try offering flexible hours. For example, instead of giving Fridays off, let employees choose other full days or half-days to take off such as Thursday afternoons, Tuesday mornings, or the entire day on Monday. If you really need all hands on deck, consider letting employees telecommute on certain days of the week.

Employees reap many of the same benefits from this alternative plan as they would from an actual summer Friday schedule. They still have some control over their hours and get extra time off work. Workers can come in late or leave early to attend a doctor’s appointment, drop their child off at summer camp, or simply relax. If telecommuting, they avoid the stress of a long commute or rush-hour traffic.

Employers also benefit because employees perform better when they work during their most productive hours. Night owls, for example, are usually more alert in the afternoon than in the morning, while early birds may lose focus mid-afternoon.

Tips for making a summer hours work schedule

As an employer, you want your employees to feel appreciated. Offering summer Fridays is a great way to do that, but at the end of the week, your company can’t get behind on projects and deadlines. How can you reduce working hours without sacrificing work quality and output? The answer: communication and inclusiveness.

  • Establish clear rules for the seasonal work schedule, and put them into writing. Send a hard or electronic copy of your company’s summer hours policy to employees or post it in a public area like the company announcements board.
  • Consider holding a meeting or polling your employees to find out what they really want or need.
  • Communicate with employees to make sure they understand the summer hours work schedule.
  • Include all employees. Even if giving time off is easy for some departments and not others, treating groups differently isn’t fair. It sends the message that your business values certain departments or employees over others, which can lower company morale and lead to resentment. Create a schedule that includes everyone.
  • Coordinate the schedules or delegate the task to one or more managers. Even if your plan seems flawless, someone still needs to make sure that your company always has enough staff during peak hours.
  • Check in with employees regularly. Monitor their progress and ask for feedback about the seasonal work hours. Some companies have the staff state their goals on Friday (or Thursday) for the following week.
  • Consider doing a test run for a month or two before making the new schedule official. Tweak the plan as needed.
  • If you’re offering a flexible schedule, you may want to set mandatory work hours so you have enough people during the busiest hours.

Potential drawbacks of offering summer Fridays

The benefits of a reduced work week are obvious, and we’ve outlined most of them: employees feel valued and less stressed out, which makes for a more positive and productive work environment. But a summer hours policy can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, can it? As with any other work policy, a summer schedule has drawbacks.

Abuse of privileges

Occasionally, people abuse their summer schedule privileges. Maybe they’re dishonest about how much time they really take off, or maybe they slack off on their work. Fortunately, this problem doesn’t happen often. Most employees remain motivated, complete their work on time, and follow the rules.

Increased stress

You may not expect a seasonal schedule to increase stress. After all, the point of implementing summer Fridays is to reduce stress! However, a few employees may feel they have too much to do to take time off. Also, not everyone wants to work longer hours, even if it means getting an extra day off. Getting employee feedback is important for precisely this reason. What people do or don’t want may surprise you.

Returning to regular hours

With September comes the end of summer Fridays and the beginning of cooler weather and shorter days. Employees and employers must go back to the regular five-day work week, which is tough for just about everyone.

Giving your employees time off on Fridays is a great way to boost company morale and increase productivity. While an altered summer schedule does have its drawbacks, it’s still worth considering. If you think that it might work well for your business, put together a plan and do a trial run. You just might find that the benefits make it worth implementing!

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