Are Summer Office Hours the New Standout Benefit to Attract Candidates?

There’s no hiding it, your benefits package plays a big part in staff retention and candidate attraction. If a candidate is weighing up their options between you and a competitor, or even just between you and staying where they are, how are you going to persuade them to join your team? In a labour shortage, when finding quality candidates is difficult enough, this is an even bigger concern for employers to consider.

In recent years, you might have been able to win candidates over with the offer of hybrid working. The Covid-19 pandemic proved that remote working is possible for many office-based roles and has become standard practice ever since. In other words, the opportunity to work from home isn’t the unique benefit that it once was. Employers need to offer something more to stay attractive to top candidates.

Could Summer Office Hours be that new, sought-after benefit?

A woman sits at a table outside on a sunny day, wearing sunglasses, working remotely from her laptop.

What Even Are Summer Office Hours?

Essentially, Summer Office Hours are any form of alternative working hours, enacted over select summer months. The most common manifestation is Summer Fridays, where offices will close early for the weekend, perhaps in July and August. The idea recognises that people are more likely to take time off over summer to enjoy a few extra hours of sunshine. However, it also helps working parents with the extra childcare responsibilities.

Kellogg’s have been offering Summer Fridays for 20 years already! Staff are required to make up the hours earlier in the week but, equally, they don’t need to use the scheme each week if they don’t want to. Nike and PwC have also piloted and confirmed a similar policy in the last couple of years.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping companies from using other systems, such as finishing an hour earlier every day of the week. Or simply offering flexible hours, or more WFH days, so that staff can tailor their schedule to suit their needs. Companies can also decide whether staff need to make up their hours at other points in the week or not at their own discretion.

Results from a LinkedIn Poll on what kind of Summer Office Hours employees would prefer. From 448 votes; 35% for Half-day Fridays, 13% for Hour Early Finish Every Day, 48% for Flexible Hours, 2% for Other.

The key thing is to create a system that works for both employers and employees. For industries that slow down over summer, this is a system that won’t interrupt business operations too much. It could be a fantastic addition to your retention and recruitment strategy.

How to Implement Summer Office Hours

As you might expect, introducing a new policy like this will need effective planning, communication, and testing. Leaders should not make this decision in haste.

1. Model different options at board level. Of course, it’s no use offering Summer Office Hours if they’ll severely impact business operations. If summer is actually your busiest time of year, for example, other benefits might be more applicable. However, for those who can afford the flexibility over summer, we would encourage leaders to at least be open to the idea.

2. Talk to your team. Once you know what options you can offer, it’s time to see what your team think. Even beyond the subject of Summer Office Hours, no policy change should be introduced without a full consultation period first. This gives you the chances to make sure you’ve considered all implications, as well as ensuring your new proposal is one that your team actually want.

A checklist for employers wanting to implement Summer Office Hours; consult with employees, communicate intentions and expectations, create clear written policy, keep consulting employees throughout trial.

3. Set clear expectations and written policy. Time to get the internal comms team involved. Policy changes like this need crystal clear expectation setting. Do staff need to make up hours elsewhere? Do they have to take up the new system or can individuals stick to regular hours? If you’re offering more remote working days, can people go abroad, or do they need to be in commuting distance from the office still?

4. Have a trial run. Before committing to the policy long-term, it’s worth piloting over a shorter period. See if your forecasting was accurate in terms of business operations and keep checking in with your staff to see how they feel. Don’t just take word of mouth though - create a survey to assess employee satisfaction and establish key metrics across the business to analyse.

We’re very interested to see how Summer Office Hours might evolve over the coming years!

Two office workers leaving the office early on a Friday in the Summer

Our team are always happy to chat for more ideas on how to improve your candidate attraction strategy. Give us a call on 01709 723 248 to hear what our top candidates are looking for these days.

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