Employees are starting to wind down, thinking ahead to their plans for the weekend, how they are going to enjoy the sunshine and what they still need to do before they can fully relax.
Due to this lack of productivity and to give something back to their staff and help retain talent, some organisations have now started to consider implementing a ‘summer Friday’ scheme.
In essence, this means that staff get to leave the office at lunchtime on a Friday and start their weekend early. It is an idea that most employees would welcome, but it throws up some challenges that companies would need to consider before being able to roll out such a scheme; for example, a business can’t simply ‘give away’ these hours, and targets and deadlines still need to be hit. If you are in the middle of negotiations with a client or perhaps dealing with an ongoing customer issue, you can’t simply walk away and turn on your ‘out of office’ as you would if you were taking your annual leave.
Measures would need to be in place to cover these eventualities. There would need to be clarity up front about what time it was acceptable to finish and which weeks of the year were included. There is also the issue of your line manager – it is no good having the policy in place if staff feel uncomfortable leaving the office because their boss is glaring at them from behind his or her desk with a mound of paperwork still to complete.
The scheme must feel part of the culture and fabric of the organisation for it to truly work. When it does work, companies that have already implemented such schemes report an increase in productivity during the other four days of the week and a reduction in staff turnover. It also gives them greater kudos in the employment market – who doesn’t want to work for a company that lets you finish early on a Friday in the summer?
There are, of course, some industries in which this would never work, such as catering, retail and the service sector; however, this does not mean that a good work life balance cannot be achieved. Employers in these sectors could consider options such as being more flexible with shift swaps and changes during the holiday or, where possible, allowing staff to work from home to complete administrative parts of their role.
Whether you can introduce full-on ‘summer Fridays’ or more flexibility during the summer months, offering staff a way to create a better work-life balance is a great way to make employees feel valued and retain talent.
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