With the warm days here, many organisations are introducing summer hours into the workforce. A type of benefit aimed to attract and retain top talent, summer hours might be just what your business needs this year as the warm weather arrives alongside festival season, lockdown easing and major televised events such as the Olympics. But what are summer hours and how can it help your company?
Ian Wright, founder of Small Business Prices, shares the positive aspects – and downsides – of offering summer hours as an SME.
Offering this benefit to employees is a way to encourage them to reduce the amount of time spent in the office or the total number of hours worked during the warmer months. Summer hours have taken many different names; summer Fridays, half-day Fridays, early out Fridays, etc. Although the names may vary, the concept stays the same.
One of the main reasons to offer a shorter working week is that it gives employees more flexibility. Flexible hours have increasingly become popular across many businesses over the last few years – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where a good work-life balance was a struggle for both employee and employer alike. Granting workers more freedom when it comes to their schedule allows them to maintain a better work-life balance, which in turn makes people happier.
Because of this, summer hours also prevent burnout, boosting productivity. Employees feel more motivated to complete their workload in the given time, to keep the benefit you have given them. The nicer weather outside makes staff feel demotivated and trapped inside, after all. Summer hours boost morale among employees during the middle of the year. It also gives them something to look forward to at the end of a week; a reward for the hard work they have put in at a difficult time.
Finally, and maybe one of the most important benefits of summer hours, is that it shows your employees that you trust them. The shorter week displays to staff that you have confidence in them to handle their workload while also enjoying time in the sun. Employers who have trusted their staff with perks like unlimited holiday allowance and remote work have attested to huge improvements in overall wellbeing. The same principle applies here.
While there are huge perks to offering this benefit to employees, it also has its drawbacks though.
Stress levels may rise among workers during the shorter hours. Going from having five days to complete their work to just four could result in them feeling too much pressure to get their work done in less time. But it’s not just that; there is a chance that some workers who are offered these days off won’t take them as they will say they have too much to do. Employers considering offering this should be aware of potential burn out.
Some people could use the shorter working hours to slack off. Although many employees aren’t the most productive on Fridays, if you have summer Fridays, the morning can be unproductive in terms of getting work done. Productivity can grind to a halt as staff are no longer interested in working and are focused on counting down the hours until they can clock off.
Moreover, it can cause disintegration in communication among staff members. When employees are not working at the same time, collaboration and meetings can be challenging to schedule which may result in employees being left out of the loop and a drop in productivity.
A flexible arrangement may not be the best thing for your organization; it is very much something that needs to considered on an individual basis. A business that needs a certain number of employees won’t benefit from staff that can limit their time on the job – especially with certain client-facing positions.
If you do decide to move forward with summer hours, it’s important that the new policy is communicated effectively amongst employees so that what is expected of them is understood by all. Additionally, you should stay consistent with what you are offering. Don’t go back and forth between giving workers every Friday off to half days on Fridays. Not only is it confusing, but it’s demotivating to staff.
Lastly, be aware of deadlines, stress levels and the flexibility of your business. Offering every Friday off may not be the best thing for your company – consider what will work best for you and your employees so that your business will continue to run effectively.