Everyone loves an extra day off, especially when the weather is nice. Summer Fridays at your organization could offer an unparalleled return on investment by boosting engagement, morale and productivity. These days, more and more businesses give their employees this beloved seasonal perk.

Consider Summer Fridays as a Seasonal Perk

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 56 percent of HR professionals say their organizations offer some form of flexible work schedule. In addition, SHRM reports that flexible working benefits are among the top three most leveraged benefits to aid employee retention. With the substantial gains of summer Fridays, it's easy to see why many businesses offer flexible work schedules, especially during the hot summer months. For example, these organizations offer established summer programs:

  • KPMG US LLC has a Summer Weekend Jumpstart Program that gives employees the opportunity to beat rush hour traffic all season long by establishing a fixed summer departure time of 3 p.m., notes SHRM
  • The University of Miami lets staff choose either a full or partial day off on Friday through their Flexible Summer Work Program
  • Dell is experiencing such positive results with flexible seasonal hours that they aim to have one-half of their entire global workforce on a flexible schedule, notes Fast Company

Boost Engagement and Morale By Giving Employees More Flexibility

Repetitive tasks or job functions, coupled with on-the-job weariness and fatigue, can have a damaging impact on employee productivity. Thankfully, summer Fridays offer a relatively easy way to boost morale and improve overall employee engagement. Leaving early on Friday means your workforce is typically more engaged and focused on their job during the week. Moreover, the time away from the office allows tired or burnt-out employees an opportunity to rest and recharge more for Monday — which can increase productivity for the week ahead. A summer afternoon off also sends the message to your staff that you trust them and appreciate and value the work they do.

Define What Summer Fridays Means to Your Organization

To capitalize on the benefits this popular perk can offer, start with a clear definition of what "summer Fridays" means to your organization. Will you include every Friday during June through August, or will you only offer one summer Friday for certain months? Will employees be required to remain at their jobs until mid-afternoon or will you give the whole day off? Will the entire office close?

If letting employees leave at mid-afternoon won't leave customers or clients in the lurch, a complete office closure might be just the right perk for the hot summer months ahead. However, if operations can't thrive on anything less than regular business hours, consider offering reduced or "flex hours" instead. Many employees will find great benefit in being able to take a half-day during the week.

Once you've decided on a policy that best suits your business, it's time to deliver that message to staff and managers alike. For summer Fridays to deliver, you need to communicate any restrictions to employees. Consider sending an email detailing the specifics of the program or add a friendly reminder to the agenda during regularly scheduled meetings. You'll not only communicate your policy effectively, but you'll increase excitement for its implementation.

Summer Fridays are an ideal way to beat the usual seasonal decline that can drag down employee effectiveness and productivity. According to Harvard Business Review, 94 percent of vacations had a good ROI when it came to employee outlook and energy upon returning to work. That means summer Fridays might just turn your usual summer productivity slump into the year's highest yielding quarter.

Stay up-to-date on the latest workforce trends and insights for HR leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Tags: Productivity performance management Employee Engagement