There's no doubt that the popularity of Summer Fridays as a work perk is on the rise. One 2017 survey by Gartner revealed that over 40% of surveyed offices took part in this initiative, up 20% from 2015’s record.
But while Summer Friday’s morale-boosting powers encourage more and more workplaces to put them into action, there are still plenty of bosses who balk at the idea of cutting the work week short, even by a few hours. If you’re stuck with one of these militant managers and want to make the case for Summer Friday, arm yourself with these key facts about Summer Fridays, how they work, and their productivity-boosting benefits.
“Summer Fridays” happen when offices choose to give employees additional time off throughout the summer, typically between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The exact way a Summer Friday policy is structured can vary from company to company. Some offices grant half-days on Fridays, with employees either leaving a few hours early, at 2 or 3 p.m., or as early as noon. Other offices structure Summer Fridays as days the company will close down in full, with all employees getting the whole day off. And still other companies offer Summer Fridays as "floating holidays" that employees can receive a set number of to use at their discretion, regardless of what the company as a whole is doing that day.
What remains standardized across all of these policies, though, is that Summer Fridays are not intended to cut into employees' paid time off. Instead, they are seen as an "extra" perk, intended to exist alongside but ultimately separate from the rest of your PTO and federal holidays. It's worth noting this also means that, in the event you were to lose your job, Summer Fridays aren't something you would reimbursed for as you would with unused PTO, since they don't count as official vacation time.
The existence of these policies also does not mean employees are expected to do less work. If anything, they may result in a need to come in a little early or stay a little late on a given Monday or Wednesday to offset the time spent away from your desk at the end of the week. Insisting on making use of Summer Fridays when your workload is far from finished, then, could result in some raised eyebrows or negative attention, and it isn't a strategy we would particularly recommend. (That said, if your company does offer Summer Fridays but you're regularly too busy to take advantage of them, that could point to a problem with an unrealistic workload and is probably a conversation worth having with your boss.)
Ultimately, if you're strategic with your time and eke as much impact out of your Monday through Thursday workdays as possible, Summer Fridays simply mean you have a few extra hours (or even en entire day) to jumpstart a beautiful summer weekend. And that sounds like a perk most of us would love to be signed up for.
Surprise! They are essentially the same exact thing.
It's possible that "summer hours" may be used slightly more often to refer to a business itself operating with shorter or altered hours during the summer months. For instance, this would be a scenario in which the entire company logs off and locks up by 3 p.m. on a Friday, instead of a handful of employees electing to use their "freebie" half-day that day. But by virtue of the company being closed, that, of course, means workers wind up with this time off themselves. Meaning, they're basically getting a Summer Friday out of it regardless. Tomat-oh, tom-ah-to, right?
Generally, managers who don’t love the idea of Summer Friday cite a loss of productivity as their main reason. But while that concern makes sense hypothetically — employees working a half day rather than a full day could very well get less done — research indicates that the flexibility and better sense of work-life balance provided by Summer Fridays can actually motivate employees to accomplish more in a shorter period of time.
According to a 2014 study by Captivate Networks, workplace productivity inherently drops about 20% during the summer months, with or without Summer Fridays. Forbes contributor Elena Bajic uses these stats to support her argument on behalf of Summer Fridays, claiming that very few employees abuse the freedom offered by Summer Fridays (refuting a common fear among bosses) and that the shortened work week boosts company morale, which can ultimately lead to higher output and greater returns. Bajic explains it like this: “By giving employees permission to leave early and enjoy a longer weekend, employers send a message that they value their workers’ mental health as well as their lives outside of work. Efficiency, after all, is not measured in hours, so giving employees more time to relax means time spent at the office is used more productively and with more focus. When people feel better and are happier with their employer, they are more motivated to get their work done – and done well.”
Perks like Summer Fridays help companies attract and retain top talent. Because Summer Fridays indicate an employer’s commitment to ensuring her employees’ happiness, they’re a benefit that make participating companies especially appealing to competitive candidates. With the national unemployment rate dipping to 4%, companies have more reason than ever to make attractive offers to talented individuals. When these offers include flexibility benefits like Summer Fridays, they catch the attention of high achievers who want to feel valued and trusted by their employers. “Summer Fridays are effective at reengaging employees, because from an employee perspective, the company is putting their money where their mouth is, giving the gift of time. An engaged employee will work harder those other four and a half days, and they’re less likely to quit during the summer,” CEB HR practice leader Brian Kropp told Fast Company.
While Summer Fridays aren’t viable for all industries (unfortunately), office-based jobs will typically reap more advantages than handicaps by putting this seasonal policy into action. As long as deadlines are upheld, clients are notified, and clear start and end dates are established, Summer Fridays increase productivity and elevate happiness in the workplace. So go ahead, make the case to your boss and (hopefully) enjoy your season of half-day Fridays!
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