Once Memorial Day weekend rolls around, people across the country begin packing up early on Friday and head out for their warm-weather plans. Starting in the 1960s in Manhattan, Summer Fridays have become a tradition among a variety of industries, specifically publishing and advertising. It’s a perk that many employees look forward to every year and can often dictate whether people stay at a company. But does it pay to offer this early dismissal?
The Benefits of Offering Half-Days During the Summer
1. Loyalty throughout your team.
Companies have found that by offering an early dismissal, people are more loyal to their team and work harder as a result. Summer Fridays are a way for the employer to show they care about their team’s quality of life and encourage time away from the office to refresh and relax. Friday afternoons are also usually the most unproductive times of the week—it doesn’t cost companies that much to let employees leave early this time of year. In fact, according to a study by Opinion Research Corporation for AOC Market Research, this type of flexibility actually leads to greater productivity.
2. Attractive to new talent.
Not offering Summer Fridays can cause people to leave their current job. When someone works hard but doesn’t get compensated—either monetarily or via time off—that person can take their skills elsewhere. Early dismissals are a straightforward way for companies to remain competitive in the industry. If talented people look for employers who offer better perks, then companies need to stay relevant and provide the same incentives to keep their top people.
3. Work-life balance.
The idea of reaching a “work-life balance” has been gaining traction since Millennials have entered the workforce. Studies show they value work-life balance over meaningful work and job progression. We also live in an age where people are constantly on the clock—there’s always an email to answer or a client to get back to. Summer Fridays give people more time to spend with their family, and they’ll come back on Monday reinvigorated.
The Tradeoffs That Come With Summer Fridays
1. Relaxed attitude.
Sometimes these early dismissals send the wrong message to employees. Workers may use them as an excuse to relax a bit more, which can lead to less work getting completed. If your team is prone to this, consider offering a year-round option to work from home one day a week. Or, extend business hours during the week to increase productivity. That way, Friday isn’t a complete bust.
2. Increased stress.
Some people who have half-days or full-days off during the season may end up working anyway if they have a lot of tasks to get through. There can only be so much time employees can take before they begin to miss deadlines. As a result, some people may become resentful of others or the company if they are constantly staying late on a Summer Friday while other members of the team leave and enjoy the extra time off.
3. A work environment that’s too casual.
If you work in a place that offers early dismissal during the summer, employees may start coming in with more casual outfits to reflect their relaxed office environment. To keep people in check, set up a list of guidelines for everyone to follow at the beginning of the season. Make sure everyone knows this type of year doesn’t mean they should slack off. Employees still need to conduct business in appropriate attire—even if they aren’t in the office for a full day.
4. Getting back into the swing of things.
The beginning of the fall can be a tough time for many people to be productive again. With the days getting shorter and the weather becoming colder, employees will feel like they are returning from their relaxed summer to a longer week. To make the transition as smooth as possible, maintain the early dismissal once or twice per month. This approach will help workers adjust back to the longer workweek and shorter weekend.
What’s the Verdict?
Summer Fridays can create a shift in the work environment, but they also provide an opportunity for a company to become more welcoming and retain talent. Whether you begin to offer a couple of half-days throughout the summer or set an early dismissal at the end of every week, there are a handful of ways to reap the benefits of this perk and experience a more interactive, engaging, and productive workplace as a result.