It’s nice outside and the kids are out of school. It’s summer time! Do workers expect workplace flexibility during June, July and August? They do and until recently employers were listening. But things appear to be changing.
Workers surveyed by staffing firm OfficeTeam said they’re most interested in flexible schedules (39 percent) and the ability to leave early on Fridays (30 percent). But organizations have cooled off on providing these benefits. Sixty-two percent of human resources (HR) managers reported their organization offers flexible schedules at this time of year, down from 75 percent in a 2012 survey. About three in 10 employers (29 percent) relax their dress codes in the summer months, compared to 57 percent five years ago. Companies with shorter hours on Fridays also fell to 20 percent, a 43-point decline from 2012.
HR managers were asked, “Which, if any, of the following summer benefits are offered at your company?” Their responses:
Benefits – 2017 vs 2012
Flexible schedules – 62% / 75%
More relaxed dress code – 29% / 57%
Leaving early on Fridays – 20% / 63%
Activities such as a company picnic or potluck – 17% / 28%
- More than one-third of HR managers (34 percent) feel workers are less productive during the summer months. Another 34 percent said there’s no change in on-the-job performance.
- Not planning well for vacations (32 percent) and unexpected absences (22 percent) were identified as the most common negative employee behaviors at this time of year, ahead of dressing too casually (19 percent), sneaking in late or leaving early (15 percent), and being mentally checked out (12 percent).
“It’s natural for employees to get distracted when the weather’s nice and thoughts turn to plans outside the office. But savvy companies maintain staff productivity and morale by embracing summer in the workplace,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Letting employees modify their schedules, leave early on Fridays or dress more casually when it’s hot out are easy ways to keep them loyal and engaged.”
Employers should consider these five tips to help staff make the most of summer at work:
- Perk up. Give employees more control over how they spend their time by offering flexible schedules and occasionally letting them leave early on Fridays. Just make sure policies are clear so business can continue as usual.
- Rally for rest. Remind workers to take time off, and set an example by doing so yourself. Bring in temporary professionals to fill in during absences.
- Venture out. Holding meetings outdoors or while taking a walk is a great way to get fresh air while accomplishing business objectives.
- Have some fun. Plan an ice cream break, picnic or group outing. Employees will appreciate being able to relax and bond with colleagues in a non-work setting.
- Dress down. Allow staff who aren’t customer- or client-facing to wear more casual attire, as long as it doesn’t detract from work. You might even consider instituting themed Fridays where Hawaiian shirts or sports apparel are encouraged.
About the Research
The surveys of HR managers and workers were developed by OfficeTeam. They were conducted by independent research firms and include responses from more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 380 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.