Summer Fridays Are Great, But . . .

Elissa Tucker's picture

July was an especially great month to be an APQC employee. We met our performance goals in June and earned the coveted reward of half-day Fridays for all of July. As long as we got our work done and made sure members were taken care of, we were free to take Friday afternoons off and head to the pool, take a nap, get an early start on that weekend road trip, etc. 

So this past Friday, I shut down my laptop early and headed out for some fun in the sun. 

It was great! I highly recommend employers consider half-day Fridays—whether as a reward for performance or a summer work/life balance perk. And, I’m not the only one making this recommendation.

As I sat down to watch this week’s episode of the CBS Sunday Morning show (fully relaxed from my long weekend) my interest was piqued as host Jane Pauley shared the cover story topic: a growing trend called Summer Fridays.

Soon images flashed across my television screen of employees from companies such as L’Oréal and TGI Fridays enjoying their Fridays boating, tinkering with clocks, beekeeping, etc.

It looked great! So great that the announcer predicted employers would soon be receiving a deluge of “Why don’t we get Summer Fridays?” emails.

As I was watching the program and cheering on the growing trend that is Summer Fridays, I recalled some conflicting guidance I had recently given. In a Strategic HR Review article I wrote:

“When seeking to increase employee engagement, an organization may be tempted to focus on employee perks. On-site spas, catered lunches and paid house cleaning services can be adopted with relative speed and ease. Employees enjoy receiving perks like these, but this appreciation does not translate into enduring employee engagement. With the effects of perks often fleeting and expensive, the organization would be better served by focusing on practical approaches that address persistent drains on employee satisfaction.”

In the article, I go on to suggest a number of enduring approaches to engaging employees. These approaches aren’t easy but they are cost-effective and can be carried out by people managers.

So what do I really think about Summer Fridays? As an employee who just had a great half-day Friday, I still enthusiastically recommend employers consider the Summer Friday perk. Yet, I also recommend that employers keep the power of perks in perspective and adopt more enduring paths to motivating, engaging, and retaining employees--even if these solutions aren’t quick fixes. APQC’s People Challenges at Work survey found that employees want support in navigating change. They want help developing the skills needed to reach top levels of performance. And most of all, employees want more information and direction so they can do their best to contribute in the ways that matter most.

Read more about how people managers can engage employees in enduring ways in APQC’s People Challenges at Work Collection.

 Follow me on Twitter @ElissaTucker #SummerFridays


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