Why You Should Offer Summer Working Hours to Employees - XCD

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Office air conditioning blasting; employees wistfully glancing out the windows; long lunch breaks in the park; everyone booking time off. For businesses in the UK, the months of July and August in particular tend to see a lull in productivity with many employees gleefully switching on their ‘out of office’ status and jetting off abroad.

Summer working hours have been a big topic of conversation recently, with corporations like PricewaterhouseCoopers popularising a policy of early finishes on Fridays in the summer. But is offering this perk to employees actually worth it? Here’s a closer look at some of the benefits of summer working hours that HR professionals need to consider. 

Types of summer working hours

Summer hours refers to a policy where organisations implement more flexible or shorter work schedules in the summer months, offering staff the opportunity to spend more time outside their workplace to enjoy the longer, warmer days. There are a few different types of summer work hours policy that different organisations have implemented:

Fridays off

The simplest way of implementing summer work hours, giving every employee Fridays off effectively means adopting a four-day week in the Summer. Employees are still paid the same amount but they don’t need to work at all on the last day of the week. Plus, there’s no expectation that employees work longer hours on Monday through Thursday.

Fridays off with compressed hours

Much like the aforementioned policy, this version of summer hours also means that employees are not expected to work on Fridays. However, they are expected to work longer hours on Monday-Thursday to compensate for this. This flexible work model is sometimes called ‘compressed hours’ because the total number of hours worked remains the same but is redistributed across four days. 

Friday half days

If your organisation is toying with the idea of summer hours but isn’t sure whether to fully commit, Friday half days are a great middle ground. Instead of having to work a full day on Fridays, this policy allows staff to go home at lunchtime on the last day of the week. There’s no expectation that staff work longer hours throughout the rest of the week to make up for this. 

Staggered Fridays off

If your organisation is concerned about Fridays or Friday afternoons being unstaffed, another option is to implement staggered Fridays off. In this summer Fridays policy, the employees are split into two groups which alternate taking Fridays off. This means that half the employees are always working on Fridays. 

Flexible summer hours

Who said summer hours had to be restricted to a Friday? Flexible summer hours policies allow employees to decide for themselves when to work shorter hours. This is especially beneficial for employees who are parents or have caring responsibilities because it allows them to adapt their schedule to best suit their needs.

You may also be interested in: How cloud technology enables flexible working

Benefits of summer hours

Improve employees’ work-life balance

While employees may not mind working late into the evenings in November when it’s cold outside and their only after-work plans are to go home and watch Netflix, in the summer many people want to spend time with friends and family during the week. With flexible summer hours, employees are more able to take time to hang out with their loved ones, enjoy hobbies, and go outside to soak up that vitamin D. The beneficial impacts on work-life balance can help reduce levels of stress and burnout in the workplace, helping staff feel refreshed and working at their best even despite potential disruption to work due to team members taking holidays.

Enhance employees’ mental and physical health

Leading on from the point above, flexible or shorter work hours in the summer can be vastly beneficial to both the mental and physical health of employees. By giving employees more opportunity to get outside, be active, and spend time with their loved ones in the summer, employers can make a real difference to employees’ health. 

Just getting outside in the sun can have significant health impacts, including:

  • Stimulating the production of serotonin, the chemical that helps us stay energised, happy, and focused.
  • Improving sleep due to regulation of the internal body clock.
  • Soaking up Vitamin D which helps support bone and blood health.

Offering Fridays off or offering half days allows employees to get outside in the summer months and enjoy the positive impacts of spending extra hours outside or doing activities they enjoy.

Increase productivity

With improvements to employees’ health and happiness, you can expect to see higher levels of productivity and performance. Well rested employees tend to perform better throughout the work week, completing tasks faster and more accurately than their overtired and stressed counterparts. 

Moreover, a shorter work week has been found to have beneficial impacts on productivity, with employees needing to better manage their time in order to complete all their tasks in a shorter time frame. This means increased efficiency as employees find ways to optimise and streamline their responsibilities. 

Show recognition for employees’ hard work

Another way that summer hours can benefit your organisation is by making employees feel appreciated and recognised. As all HR professionals know, recognition is one of the most significant and yet underappreciated factors in employee engagement and retention. Sometimes considered as important or more important than financial rewards such as bonuses or salary increases, recognition is crucial to keeping employees happy in their roles. 

Summer hours, therefore, can be a great way for an employer to show appreciation for staff’s efforts throughout the year by rewarding them with no-strings-attached extra paid time off. Flexible working and summer Fridays cost relatively little to implement, but the return on investment in happier and healthier employees who feel valued by their employer can have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. 

You may also be interested in: Calculating the value of employee recognition

Attract and retain your top talent

In a candidate-driven job market where unemployment is low and job seekers can be picky about the opportunities they pursue, the perks your organisation offers can have a significant impact on how many people apply to your job vacancies. Offering a great perk like summer working hours helps your brand stand out from the crowd and attracts more applicants. A greater pool of candidates makes it more likely that you’ll be able to hire the best talent. 

At the same time, a great summer Fridays policy can boost retention among your current staff, making them want to stick around to continue enjoying the benefits of flexible work. 

Reduce disruption from holidays

Finally, a key benefit of summer working hours is that it minimises the disruption caused by employees taking holidays throughout these months of the year. While employees may still book holidays at various times throughout these months, taking Fridays off each week can minimise these holidays and increase the likelihood that more people are in the office at the same time. This can have benefits for communication and collaboration, helping avoid the classic communication disruptions and delays experienced often in the summer. 

Implementing summer working hours using employee relationship management software

Coordinating a summer working policy is no small task, and it takes considerable effort from the human resources team to ensure that it is implemented and operating effectively. Fortunately, using HR software, human resources professionals can ease the transition into summer hours and stay on top of the data to evaluate the policy’s success. 

Communicating the policy change

While senior leadership often like to announce exciting policies such as four-day work weeks and flexible summer schedules, it’s down to HR to ensure that the details of the policy are accurately and effectively communicated to all employees. In particular, if many of the employees have hybrid or remote working patterns, ensuring a single source of truth about the summer hours policy is essential for avoiding confusion. 

Using employee relations management software can be useful for ensuring that every employee is on the same page about the policy change. For example, XCD HR software’s employee relationship management features include a configurable company dashboard where everything from news and announcements to policy information can be collated in one easy-to-access place. The intuitive self-service software means that employees always know where and how to check important information.

You may also be interested in: Why employee relationship management is better on single software

Time management

For flexible work patterns throughout the summer, XCD’s time and expenses software features a powerful timesheets feature that can be easily accessed and updated via mobile app. Providing total visibility over all employees’ work cycles and overtime, XCD software ensures that all compensation is accurately calculated and employee work is kept track of.

Managing paid time off

Managing annual leave has always been a time-consuming task for HR. Coordinating time off for various employees with HR and their managers can take a long time and lots of back-and-forward emails when carried out manually. 

With self-service HR software, this repetitive admin can be almost entirely eliminated. Employees can log on to the software’s self-service portal to check their remaining annual leave allowance and submit their requests, gaining quick approvals from HR and managers without any of the hassle. The HR database tracks all employee leave and provides useful overviews that provide visibility over which staff are taking time off and when to ensure that productivity doesn’t grind to a halt in the summer. 

Even better? As XCD is a single HR and payroll solution, this data is automatically transferred to our payroll functionality, saving the finance team time too! 

Tracking the impact of summer hours policies on performance and engagement

Finally, to evaluate whether summer hours have had an impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, and engagement, it’s important to delve deep into the data. With advanced people analytics capabilities and flexible customisable reports, XCD software allows both HR teams and C-suite leadership to gain vital insights into the workforce. From tracking productivity levels against time tracking or evaluating the results of pulse surveys into engagement and employee morale, AI-powered analytics software allows a more granular insight into how exactly a summer work schedules policy impacts the workplace.

Conclusion

With today’s struggle to attract and retain talent and business’ limited budgets for financial perks, summer working hours can be a great benefit to offer employees that also can benefit your bottom line. However, implementing a summer hours policy does require some planning from human resources professionals. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page about the policy avoids unnecessary confusion and prevents the policy being abused; it’s down to HR to make sure that the rules and procedures in place are clearly communicated. 

XCD software offers all the tools HR needs to make summer working hours a success. With employee relations tools such as company dashboards, easy-to-use self-service for timesheets and leave requests, and powerful reporting and analytics capabilities, XCD software empowers your organisation for amazing results.

Ready to try out XCD employee relations and HR software for yourself? Book a demo today or chat to our team to find out more about how our tool can benefit your organisation.