Tess Vigeland: Today is a holiday for many Americans. And it also marks a schedule shift at many companies. It’s known as “summer hours” or “summer Fridays.” Basically, it’s an abbreviated work-week where employees may clock a half-day on Fridays — or get the whole day off. More and more companies offer this perk.
Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler explains why.
Jeff Tyler: A recent survey found that about 30 percent of the top public companies in the U.S. plan to offer some version of summer Fridays.
Brian Kropp: That’s actually a doubling in terms of the number of companies compared to last summer that are offering a similar type of benefit for their employees.
Brian Kropp is with the Corporate Executive Board, a business consultancy that conducted the survey.
Kropp: Companies are looking for low-cost or ideally no-cost ways to provide benefits and rewards for their employees to try to keep them engaged within their workforces.
For the most part, that strategy seems to work. Bonnie Creason is an art director for a utility company in Minneapolis. She logs nine hours a day for nine days and gets every other Friday off.
Bonnie Creason: I absolutely love it.
The schedule allows her to take long-weekends without using vacation time. On those Fridays when she is in the office, she says it’s quiet — so she tends to get more done. Not to mention the impact on company meetings.
Creason: One nice thing that’s come out of it is that we no longer have Friday meetings. You know, let’s be honest, who wants to go to a meeting on Friday?
At some companies, the schedule isn’t just a summer thing. It runs year-round. Molly Jackson is a mechanical engineer for a company that builds circuit boards for satellites. She appreciates having every other Friday off, but…
Molly Jackson: It does make for long hours. So year-round, nine hour days, it does take a little bit out of you. If it were just a summer program, I think I would like it a lot more.
Some companies offer these schedules as a benefit in lieu of more money. Jackson says she doesn’t like the perk that much.
Jackson: I don’t know if that would be much of a consolation for not having a raise.
Still, in and of themselves, these schedules can improve morale. And that can be significant for companies trying to retain employees nearing retirement.
Again, Bonnie Creason.
Creason: For them to offer this kind of benefit to employees, it makes them want to stay longer.
The condensed work week can also serve as a recruiting tool. Research shows that these perks make companies more attractive to job seekers.
I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.