Americans learn to anticipate the summer vacation early in life. By elementary school, our focus zeroes in on that bright light at the end of the school year tunnel. This trend continues for the next 15 years: Homework, Tests, Summer, Repeat. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that it’s no wonder that, even as adults, our morale (and productivity) take a nose dive into June. Like clockwork, in businesses all over the world, when the heat takes hold, employees are driven to distraction. Productivity decreases. Projects take agonizingly long to complete.
Instead of accepting this seasonal slump as an inevitability when running a year-round business, take a tip from Don Draper. He and the rest of the Mad Men started dipping out of their NYC high-rises at noon and heading for the Hamptons back in the 1960s and it seems they were really onto something. It’s become a popular trend in the HR world to implement Summer Hours. In other words, you let your employees finish their work on Monday through Thursday so they can enjoy extended weekends in the sun.
Whether you choose to allow employees to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday in exchange for leaving early on Friday, give employees a half-day on Fridays or adjust office hours so that your team works from Monday to Thursday only - you should consider implementing some form of summer hours for your employees and here’s why:
1. Happy workers are productive workers
Giving employees the ability to enjoy the weather, join their families on vacation, and de-stress contributes to a healthy work-life balance which the majority of American workers agree is extremely important. When workers feel balanced, they are healthier and happier, which in turn leads to a boost in company morale, loyalty, and productivity.
2. Workers respond to incentives
Nothing de-motivates quite like a lovely day when you’re stuck in a cubicle. As productivity dips and projects take longer to complete, providing incentives to employees helps encourage them to get their work done. Employees are also more likely to stay focused if a long weekend is in their sights. Summer hours are also a great fringe benefit, useful for attracting talented candidates to your team.
Plain and simple. When you offer a benefit like this to your employees, you’re showing that you trust them to rise to the occasion and meet their responsibilities. It tells employees you trust them to complete their work and manage their own time. Trust not only shows respect but encourages reciprocal respect.
4. Far away isn’t so far
It’s easy to suspect that remote work on Fridays or the day off would reduce motivation and production. But as most summer-hour-champions would agree, the result is quite the opposite. For one thing, the very nature of our daily lives in this digital world means that distance won’t necessarily interrupt work. No one is unreachable anymore. And if given the choice between slacking off in the office or telecommuting poolside, who wouldn’t choose the latter?
When implemented correctly, summer hours can boost your employees’ focus, productivity, and job satisfaction while reducing unnecessary absences. Better still, it can be accomplished while actually stimulating morale and loyalty. It’s a win-win. Because, after all, in the summertime when the weather’s fine, who wants to sit in their office working until 9?