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More companies offering 'summer Friday' hours as job market tightens

The perk of shorter Fridays, or even Fridays off, can be inexpensive to offer without hurting productivity, HR experts say.

Anne Markowitz Recht, CEO of Jericho-based AMR Care

Anne Markowitz Recht, CEO of Jericho-based AMR Care Group, here with HR coordinator Nicole Kelly, left,  and companion services director Jill Smith, says quitting early on summer Fridays is "an extra perk with no cost outlay, and the employees appreciate it." Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

For many companies, offering a flexible summer schedule — including shorter summer Fridays or even some Fridays off — is an inexpensive perk that employees truly appreciate.

In fact, 46 percent of companies are planning to offer "summer Fridays" this year, up from 42 percent in 2017 and nearly four times the 12 percent that offered the benefit in 2012, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

With low unemployment rates, “companies are doing everything they possibly can to create as attractive as possible a place to work,” says Brian Kropp, group vice president for the HR practice at Gartner based in its Arlington, Virginia, office.

As part of that, they’re trying to create more flexibility and give employees more work-life balance, says Kropp.

A common summer scenario is that rather than working 10 eight-hour days over a two-week period, employees may work eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day, and get every other Friday off, he says. Other companies have employees work a half day on Fridays, with or without making up the hours.

Still, some companies remain concerned that offering a summer schedule might impact productivity, but Kropp says it’s quite the opposite. Companies tell him their employees tend to work harder earlier in the week because they know they have to complete all their work before Friday.

Managers should set clear expectations from the beginning, says Barbara DeMatteo, director of HR consulting at Jericho-based Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates.

“There has to be a conversation with each employee and setting a plan and schedule so everything is transparent" and there are no assumptions, she says.

It may not work in every scenario, says DeMatteo, who recommends engaging employees in a survey to get  feedback from them on whether it makes sense for the business and how they would make it work in their own jobs.

If you find your company can’t swing a full day off, you can try a half day, says Jeninne Leale, CEO of HRPro Consulting Services in Rockville Centre.

Some businesses offer a set number of half Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, staggering workers' schedules so the entire company doesn’t shut down every Friday afternoon, she says.

Leale says she’s seen more local companies open to offering a summer schedule.

“Many corporations on Long Island a few years ago didn’t have, or started to pull back on, summer hours,” says Leale. “The trend now seems to be on the increase of companies adopting some form of summer hours.”

Jericho-based AMR Care Group, which offers care management and companion services, has been offering the perk for at least five years.

Starting the Friday before Memorial Day and running through Labor Day, office staff can go home on Fridays at 3 p.m., says CEO Anne Markowitz Recht.  Employees aren’t required to make up the hours the rest of the week.

“It’s an extra perk with no cost outlay, and the employees appreciate it,” says Recht, noting it doesn’t interrupt customer care or service because the firm has a response mechanism in place "for matters of immediate need.”

For companies implementing flexible schedules, it's critical to consider how it’s going to impact the organization and your clients, says Abigail Thomas, branch manager of the midtown Manhattan office of OfficeTeam, a division of staffing firm Robert Half.

If you’re unsure if it will work at your organization, consider a trial run to evaluate the impact on work flow and productivity, she says.

Just be sure to have a tracking mechanism in place, so hours can be adequately recorded if hourly employees do any work on that day off or half day, adds DeMatteo.

Lazy Days of Summer

Summer perks workers find most appealing:

Flexible schedule 39%

Leave early on Fridays 30%

Relaxed dress code 18%

Company picnic 10%

Source: 2017 OfficeTeam survey

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