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Creating an equitable summer strategy

As summer approaches, many organisations implement flexible work policies to enhance work-life balance.

As the weather turns warmer, people’s minds start to wander to the outdoors and upcoming vacations. To keep workers engaged, many organizations roll out flexible work policies designed to give employees a better work-life balance during the summer buzz. But the latest survey* of 2,838 full-time employees in the U.S., Canada, and UK** found an interesting contradiction. While 83% of employees agree that summer flex policies help to reduce burnout, most of those whose employers offer these benefits say they can’t always take advantage of them.

Combatting “summer slacking”

Ever found yourself distracted on one of those early spring days where the weather is finally perfect? You’re not alone. It turns out that more sunshine means less work getting done: More than four in ten (41%) employees say they are less productive during the summer months. And more than a third (35%) say they tend to slack off when their boss is on summer vacation.

To perhaps beat summer slacking and keep employees on-task at work, a significant number of organisations embrace summer flexibility. More than half of employees (58%) reported their employer has some form of summer flexibility, with the most popular options being:

  • Flexible work hours/schedules (32%)
  • Increased work from home options (22%)
  • Summer Fridays (19%)
  • Seasonal work from anywhere options (17%)

It’s clear that workers appreciate these policies. Seventy-two percent of employees say they value flexibility more in the summer than at other times of the year – but even with these policies in place, most employees (84%) say they can’t always take advantage of them. Why not? Among those who say they can’t always take advantage of summer flex policies:

  • Workload: 30% feel too busy to take time off.
  • Coverage: 24% say there’s no one to cover their work if they’re not there.
  • Perception: 23% are concerned about negative perceptions from managers or colleagues.

The downsides of summer flexibility

While generally seen as positive, summer flex policies can add to stress if they’re not managed correctly. A significant majority of employees who have summer flex policies (80%) feel there are negative aspects. These include:

  • Reduced productivity: 31% find it harder to get work done when coworkers are less available.
  • Increased anxiety: 25% experience increased anxiety from trying to do more in fewer hours.
  • Added frustration: 22% say they would like to take advantage of summer flex policies, but they are too busy.

There may also be generational difference in who can take advantage of summer flex time. We saw that 75% of employees agree that younger workers are more accepting of – and likely to take advantage of – summer flex time policies than older workers.

And even when employees manage to take vacation, they aren’t always getting away from work: only 39% said they unplug completely when they’re on summer vacation.

Creating an equitable summer strategy

For organisations looking to maximize the benefits of flex policies and encourage employees to take time away to refresh and recharge, here are some things to consider:

  1. Clear communication: Ensure employees understand the policies and feel encouraged to use them without fear of negative repercussions.
  2. Secure buy-in: Make sure managers are aware of changes to summer flex time or vacation policies and have a chance to provide input, so they’ll encourage employees to take advantage of them.
  3. The right to disconnect: Promote the importance of fully unplugging during vacations to enhance overall well-being and productivity.
  4. Monitor progress: Regularly assess the effectiveness of the policies and make adjustments based on employee feedback and utilisation rates.

*Survey by Dayforce

**Conducted by The Harris Poll

www.dayforce.com

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