Margarita J. Deal
Employee benefits programs don’t have to break the bank. Offering simple rewards for employees can yield high motivation responses even if they don’t dramatically drain the budget. Determining what can be a high yield incentive may be as simple as understanding human behavior.
For example, the warm days of summer are just around the corner. Many of our associates will be yearning to be spending time outside, especially after the long winter months. Just the thought of summer for those of us living in New England brings smiles to our faces – we don’t get enough warm and sunny days in these parts.
Employees truly love the opportunity to enjoy an “adjusted” summer schedule. This is a very low-cost employee reward that pays significant dividends with happy, productive employees. Especially for small businesses that may not be able to offer salary increases or bonuses during these challenging economic times, a flexible summer schedule is an important employee perk that tells staff they are appreciated. Additionally, as part of a recruiting strategy, summer hours can serve as an incentive to help attract top talent.
A Low-Cost, High-Reward Employee Perk
Summer hour policies are a great way to promote employee work-life balance and increase employee morale. For example, one of our clients increases the core hours by a half hour Monday through Thursday and closes their doors early on Friday afternoon. This is a benefit that allows their employees to use that additional time for summer fun with their families and friends, while still maintaining productivity in the workplace.
In fact, in a 2012 survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for AOC Marketing Research, 66% of employee respondents who have summer schedules feel they have a better handle on work-life balance during the summer, which frees them up to spend more time with their families. In some instances, employees will even take fewer vacation days as a result of having longer weekends and more flexible schedules, which translates to greater work satisfaction and productivity.
Tips for Creating a Summer Hour Policy
Creating a summer hour policy can be a way for both employees and business owners to enjoy the summer – however, we recommend that business owners carefully plan out summer hour policies before they put them in place to ensure they are developing a program that is a win-win for both employees and business needs. Here are some tips to make a summer schedule work for your organization:
Start by asking your employees what incentives they would enjoy during the summer. If, for example, you offer a summer hours program and most employees cannot take advantage of it, there will be little benefit. Getting your employees involved in designing the program, through surveys or employee feedback, can increase the HR benefits and create a more meaningful HR benefit for staff.
Identify which job functions can be completed on an adjusted schedule without causing a disruption in sales or service. Keep in mind that not every role is suitable for leaving work early or being absent on Fridays. Many positions, such as customer service jobs, are on a time schedule, and leaving early would disrupt operations.
Determine the scope of the program. A summer hour policy can take various forms such as leaving early, working from home on Fridays, working a condensed workweek, or adding an extra half hour to the workday to accumulate for a day off. Your policy can also offer a combination of these options to meet the demands of different departments and individuals to ensure that everyone can take advantage of the summer hour policy without any disruption to your business.
Be sure to craft a written summer hour policy. Outline who is eligible, what options are available, when the summer hours program comes into effect (such as June 1-September 1), and how employees can obtain approval. It is also important to explain the purpose of the policy, so everyone understands the purpose and parameters. Finally, establish protocols and procedures to help manage staffing during the summer months.
Evaluate the program to ensure that the protocols and procedures are being followed, and the policy is having the desired effect.
If a business can create a summer hour policy that works for their organization, it is a great way to make employees feel appreciated and allow them to take advantage of those warm and all-too-short summer months.