Employees often look forward to summer as the time to slow down and schedule some time away from work. For employers, however, the work must still get done, and summer’s dip in productivity can create a challenge. Making the season work for both employee and employer can mean compromise and communication.
“Recruitment and retention start with knowing what employees want,” says Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, a temporary accounting and financial staffing solution provider. “It’s important to listen to learn what motivates them the most without sacrificing productivity. It’s also important to know your market—especially what your competition is doing.”
What employees want
In a recent survey, Accountemps asked employees, “What is the best summer perk companies could offer?”
Fifty-two percent said flexible scheduling, followed by 27% who would love to be able to leave early on Fridays. Flexible schedules align with several company policies, with 54% of senior managers saying they offer the perk, but just 32% of companies offer summer Friday hours.
What companies want
Instead, 53% of companies cited a relaxed summer dress code as a perk they provide, and 48% noted a company picnic or potluck—two perks that employees care least about. Just 11% of employees said a relaxed dress code during the summer was their top priority. “A lot of companies already have a relaxed dress code,” says Steinitz. “Casual dress is less of a big deal.”
And holding a company picnic or potluck was bottom on the list of desirable summer employee perks, with just 10% of employees saying this would make them happy. “Employees want flexible schedules or reduced hours instead of an ice cream social,” says Steinitz.
Implementing summer perks
If you decide to implement summer perks around schedules, sit down with different managers before you get too far into the season and set policies for the organization. Another option is to leave it up to each department depending on their needs.
Some companies mark the official start of summer as when the school year ends, while others create summer policies that run Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“Flexible summer hours will depend on what your company does and if you have peak hours that need to be covered,” says Steinitz. “One way to cover peak hours is by rotating schedules with certain people coming in later and staying later, and others coming in early and leaving early.”
Letting employees leave early on Friday might be a bigger hurdle to pass in some organizations, says Steinitz.
“It doesn’t surprise me that managers put leaving early on Friday further down on the list because it could mean fewer hours of production,” he says. “It’s also more of a change than some of the other summer perks that already exist in organizations. It’s easier to jump into something in existence, since it’s something that’s known and you have less adjustment.”
Steinitz says managers shouldn’t worry, though, as employees often compensate by increasing their focus, setting goals, and getting more work done in a shorter amount of time. Managers can also make it an ad hoc policy with parameters, such as certain tasks getting done or goals being hit.
Offering summer perks that workers actually want is smart business, as it can improve employee morale and make your company a more attractive place to work, says Steinitz. “These perks come at little cost to companies but often go a long way in keeping staff happy and engaged,” he says.