Forty-six percent of organizations in North America will offer their employees "Summer Fridays" this year, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. This is more than a 30 percent increase from the number of organizations globally that had similar benefits back in 2012.
"Summer Fridays" are days that organizations offer employees the flexibility to leave early or take the entire day off. Organizations that offer this type of perk may have a competitive advantage when trying to retain their top talent.
"Of course work is important, but so is a manageable work-life balance," said Brian Kropp, group vice president of the HR practice at Gartner. "When employees feel their employer cares about them and wants them to have a healthy work-life balance, they are often more loyal to their organization."
Based on data from Gartner's Global Talent Monitor, employee confidence in business conditions and long-term economic prospects hit a five-year high globally in 1Q18. While rising employee confidence in the economy is a good thing, this trend comes during a tight labor market, putting increased pressure on employers to implement ways to attract and retain employees.
In addition to this employee confidence trend, low unemployment rates in the U.S. have created incentives for employers to do everything they possibly can to create a place to work that is as attractive as possible.
There are companies that continue to be concerned that offering a summer schedule comes at a cost to productivity. "However, most companies have told us that with this benefit in place, they've found employees work harder earlier in the week because they know they have to complete their work before Friday," said Mr. Kropp.
For some industries, a Summer Friday benefit is simply not possible. Retailers, for example, always need someone in the store, and a digital commerce site must have representatives available to address issues. Consequently, regardless of the organization, there will always be people who need to work on Fridays during the summer.
"If this is the case for your organization, you need to create a corresponding benefit, like a summer bonus, for your employees," Mr. Kropp said. "The idea is that even if a summer schedule isn't operationally possible for them, at least employees feel they are getting some type of summer reward as well, which will help keep them engaged."