There is a growing workplace practice in America called “Summer Friday,” according to Conor Knighton. This new schedule for workers is going to be a huge hit for those who watch the clock tick slowly on Friday afternoon as they wait for the weekend.
This summer, graphic designer Jim Doussard will be kicking things off a little early, spending every other Friday at his summer home in Maryland, tinkering in his garage … building clocks, instead of watching one.
“I love to be in my studio,” he said. “It’s borrowed time, if you will. I don’t owe the office any more time that week. I don’t owe my family, my friends. I can just go in my studio and create and just be me.”
Doussard is not calling in sick on Summer Fridays, he is encouraged to take the day off by Washington, D.C. architecture firm HOK. After working slightly longer hours Monday through Thursday, Doussard can take advantage of an increasingly popular perk: a “Summer Friday.”
“A summer Friday is when companies let their employees leave early on Fridays during the summer,” said Brian Kropp, HR Practice Leader at research firm Gartner. “We’ve just seen a huge increase in the number of companies that are offering it.”
Gartner spent some time last year surveying Fortune 1000 companies and discovered that 42% offered some type of “Summer Friday.” There were only 21% of companies who made this kind of offer two years prior.
“The companies that have made the decision to give this benefit are giving it every summer because they see it’s valuable,” said Kropp.
Summer Fridays are a tradition that’s thought to have started in Manhattan advertising and publishing firms back in the 1960s. But now, employers across the country – from shoemaker Nike in Oregon, to boat engine maker Mercury Marine in Wisconsin – have started offering a version of the perk.
“What they found is, by giving their employees a little bit of time back and giving them that gift of time, they like their employer much more,” said Kropp. “They actually become much more loyal. They work harder. They’re more committed to their organization. It really shows that their employer cares about them and wants them to have a great work/life balance.”
Take a look on Instagram and Twitter on Friday afternoons, and you’ll see happy employees boasting about their bonus hours. It’s a perk that can be used as a recruiting tool.
“The big idea here is that work/life balance has become so much more important for employees nowadays,” Kropp said. “It’s one of the biggest reasons why people join one company. It’s one of the biggest reasons why they quit their current company.”
Since Friday afternoons are typically the most unproductive part of the week, giving this time off doesn’t necessarily cost companies that much. But the return can be priceless.
“I think it’s less about the three hours of time, and more so (at least for me) it says something about this brand and the way that they value individuals’ personal time,” Masullo said.