by Barry Sloane, President and CEO of Newtek Business Services
Summertime brings with it dreams of vacations and lazy days spent by the pool. Some business owners opt to give employees a jump-start on the weekend by offering special summer hours. Summer hour policies have become increasingly popular in recent years. In 2012, 75 percent of human resource professionals surveyed by OfficeTeam said their companies offered summer schedules. While the mention of extra time off will likely make for a happier staff, business owners may wonder how much this happiness is costing the business. There are several ways for a business to determine if such a policy is worth it.
First, an owner must determine the true cost of summer hours. The true cost depends on the method used to implement a summer-hour schedule and the company’s goals. No matter what policy a business puts in place, if the thought of customers or clients finding an office empty could be perceived as disrespecting the needs of clients, consider having a receptionist stay and answer the phones, or have a rotation of select staffers remain in the office. Also, employees should put notices on their email, even possibly alerting clients of summer hours to manage expectations. Likewise, employees could be required to keep their phones nearby, sporadically checking email for events that demanded immediate attention. If this ends up significantly compromising employees ability to enjoy the summer hours policy, it may not be worth it for a business to implement them.
Second, an owner must review which schedule s/he is most comfortable utilizing. The most common summer schedules are:
1) Allow employees to leave early on Fridays, but add those hours on to the rest of the week. For example, if you let employees leave at 1 p.m. on Friday, they might work an extra hour each day from Monday through Thursday. This compressed workweek ranked as the most common method of adopting a summer schedule among businesses in a 2005 Society for Human Resource Management survey. This method ensures that employees continue to work full weeks and maximize productivity while enjoying long weekends. As a drawback, not all employees may want to work an extra hour from Monday through Thursday. You could offer flexibility, giving staff leeway to create their own schedules as long as they work the required number of hours, or ask people to opt in to summer schedule hours at the start of summer.
2) Close early on Fridays, allowing employees to work fewer hours while earning the same pay. Consider it comp time for your employees, a bonus for their hard work all year long. The down side to this from the business owner’s perspective is, of course, you pay employees for hours not worked. Shifted open and close times may work best for traditional, retail-based companies and may not apply to professional workers who have less defined schedules.
Finally, business owners need to review the following topics:
1) The need to retain top talent: Many company owners find that perks such as summer hours instills good will and improves office culture, enabling firms to hold on to their best workers, which pays off in the long run. The OfficeTeam survey found 41 percent of employees cited flexible summer schedules as a favorite benefit, with 28 percent of employees specified early Friday departures as the most cherished.
2) Missions accomplished: Are deadlines still being met during the summer? An early Friday departure doesn’t constitute a valid excuse for a project turned in late or business relationship-destroying inattentiveness. If a business owner senses there’s an unbearable financial consequence of summer Fridays, an alternative needs to be considered.
Each business has different needs, and picking the option that works best for you and your employees will net the best result.
Barry Sloane is the President and CEO of Newtek Business Services. Mr. Sloane was the founder and President of Aegis Capital Markets, a consumer loan origination and securitization business. Additionally, he was a Senior Vice President of Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette, where he was responsible for directing sales of mortgage-backed securities and was a senior mortgage security sales person and trader for Bear Stearns, L.F. Rothschild, E.F. Hutton, and Paine Webber.