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Summer Fridays: does your workplace need them?

Summer working hours, where employees leave early on Fridays for up to five months of the year, have been found to have positive impact on productivity and retention at companies including Kellogg's, Asos and PwC. Is it time for others to take the plunge?

A 2022 report from PwC found 90% of its staff thought summer Fridays had a positive impact and 73% said it positively impacted their general wellbeing to a great extent. 

Following a successful pilot in 2021, PwC’s summer Fridays have become a permanent fixture in their employee benefits package. 

More on working in summer:

Early Friday finishes are employees most desired perk

Summer heat: Don't make us the dress code police, says HR

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Cereal maker Kellogg’s introduced a summer hours scheme 20 years ago allowing all office-based employees to finish at 12pm on Fridays from May to September.  

The company’s UKI HR director Melanie Bowes told HR magazine: “By giving our people half a day for themselves each week, it allows them to recharge and unwind.  

“Not only is this great for people’s mental and physical wellbeing, but it also leads to increased productivity and motivation.” 

It also encourages teams to think flexibility and reduces presenteeism she said. 

When implementing summer hours, we ask our people managers to work with their teams to ensure they’re making the most of the benefit.  

“If we’ve learnt anything over the last few years, it’s that being productive doesn’t necessarily mean sitting at a desk in an office.  

“We like to encourage our teams to work flexibly where they can and to work in a way that suits them. Not only does this lead to a happier workforce, but it also leads to an increase in productivity.” 

Reduced hours have become a hot topic following the UK’s four-day week trial which ended in May. 

Of the 61 companies that reduced their working week to 32 hours, 65% saw fewer sick days taken and staff were 57% less likely to resign.  

Andrew Jackson co-founder of work visualisation tool Rethinkly said flexible working should not be reserved for the summer. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Why wait for the summer to review flexible working arrangements?  

“In the current climate, offering genuine perks that can help alleviate stress and fostering a positive company culture are vital.”

Jackson said employers should consult with employees, leadership and clients when implementing a new flexible working arrangement. 

He said: “Start by having conversations with employees – run well-designed open dialogue groups to capture how people actually feel about it, including their hopes and their concerns.  

“An important thing to remember: if the company does move to a shorter week, it tends to work best if all employees adopt the practice.  

“That means bosses don’t send emails on that fifth day, and there is also a need to make clients or customers aware that this system is in place.”