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'Summer Fridays' Gain Traction with Employers

image for Maridav/Shutterstock
  • Approximately 55% of survey participants said they will let employees leave early or not work at all on Fridays during the summer.
  • This figure marks a 9% increase from last year, when 46% of employers reported offering summer hours.
  • While it's a nice perk, some industries just can't afford to offer it.

Regardless of the industry, employers have been offering non-traditional perks to new and existing workers for years in a bid to attract and retain employees. While offering things like onsite amenities and wellness stipends may be some of the tactics employers use to gain a competitive advantage for talent, a new study by Gartner suggests more than half of North American companies will either let their employees work less or not at all on Fridays this summer.

The practice, known as "Summer Fridays," is a type of flexible scheduling that allows workers to either leave the office early or take the day off at the end of the week. As the name suggests, these reduced hours are only given during the summer months.

Because the current job market favors workers, Brian Kropp, group vice president of the HR practice at Gartner, said companies are looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competition in the eyes of prospective employees.

"Right now, workers look at the surplus of open jobs in the market, and they feel confident that they can easily find a new position whenever they like," said Kropp. "Employers are incentivized to do everything they possibly can to create a place to work that is as attractive as possible, and providing employees a head start on the weekend is one way to do that."

While it's no surprise that having more time on Friday to do what you enjoy instead of working would be popular among workers, data from Gartner showcases just how popular it's become among employers.

According to the survey of 94 human resources leaders conducted during the second quarter of 2019, 55% said they were planning to offer the perk this year. Despite the somewhat small sample size, officials said this percentage showed a 9% spike from last year's figure for North American organizations. The latest survey results also showed a 43% increase from the number of organizations around the world that offered similar perks in 2012.

"Ultimately, Summer Fridays are about organizations providing the increased flexibility that employees are seeking," said Kropp. "It's a way for employers to show their staff that they are valued by giving them the gift of time."

Keeping your employees happy should be a goal as an employer. Bad morale in the workplace leads to serious operational problems down the road, so offering incentives like Summer Fridays can support work-life balance for employees to help them avoid negative things like burnout.

Ultimately, the implementation of a Summer Fridays policy depends on a number of factors, such as what industry your business operates in. For some sectors, like publishing and advertising, Fridays during the summer months are generally less productive than the rest of the week. In such instances, it makes sense to turn a down day into a long weekend perk.

While potentially losing 20% of the workweek should mean a drop in productivity, Kropp said any loss should be weighed against the benefits.

"We find that offering your employees work-life balance can increase productivity, loyalty and employee retention," he said.

Businesses in other industries that don't naturally have any slow days in the summer, like food service, retail, and shipping, may want to consider other perks when trying to retain and attract employees.

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.