Company summer hours policies have long been in place to keep the summer doldrums at bay for employees. And while employees say that having summer hours would increase their productivity there are some indicators that this policy may not be the morale builder it was intended to be.
A study of more than 600 white-collar workers across North America observed the impact of several popular approaches to worker flexibility during the summer months including telecommuting, working longer hours Monday to Thursday to either take off or shorten the Friday workday.
The study’s sponsor, Captivate Network, a digital media company, discovered that almost all of these policies had a negative impact.
It’s not a secret that summertime as a whole can have a negative impact on the workplace. Productivity goes down as does attendance, workers are more distracted and project timelines are longer. Between compensating for workers who are on vacation, just arriving back from vacation, or just plain planning one in their heads the atmosphere is one of either ramping up, down or just not ramping at all.
Working longer hours to compensate for a flexible Friday increases stress levels during the remainder of the week and productivity is lower as those longer hours don’t necessarily mean an equal amount of work.
Of all the summer hours policies only telecommuting didn’t suffer; the majority of the study’s responders (57%) said it increased their productivity. It also reduced their summer stress levels. However only 4 percent of the companies studied offered this alternative.
“These are surprising – and perhaps unwelcome – findings,” said Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network. He recommends reexamining summer hours policies to see if there actually worth it. Mr. DiFranza may find himself confronted by an angry mob with pitchforks and golf clubs at his door.
Summer hours policies may be detrimental to an organization but what’s the bigger question here? With the recession turning the workplace upside down overall stress has increased across all employee levels. Doing more with less has become the new policy rather than the temporary fix and this can diminish morale, lower productivity and make workers feel helpless. Even with summer hours workers often stay longer during the week only to forfeit their summer hours because their workloads are too heavy to leave.
Perhaps summer hours stress is just another indicator of the broken workforce. The majority of workers are now staying connected to the office at all hours including vacation time. Its no wonder there’s an increase in climbers to Mt. Everest. It may be the last place on earth without a cell signal.
What’s your company’s summer hours policy and do you think it works?