Summer 2022 is here–and it’s like no other. These past two summers, COVID has made traveling feel like a distant memory, leaving the majority of us to spend the summer vacation working from home. Although inflation and the pandemic continue to impact our travel desires, one thing is for sure–we are not going to let the best season slip away.
The solution? Summer Fridays–or in other words, using your PTO to enjoy longer weekends.
What are “Summer Fridays”?
“Summer Fridays” are as glorious as they sound. Between the holiday weekends of Memorial Day and Labor Day (roughly the end of May to the beginning of September), employees have the opportunity to leave work as early as 12-2 p.m. Whether you are trying to beat the traffic to the beach or are simply looking for an excuse to take your Friday afternoon nap a little early, this is the perfect solution for you.
New York City is well-known for its implementation of Summer Fridays, which dates back to the advertising era of the 1960s when Madison Avenue execs would take off early for the Hamptons. Back in 2012, 46 percent of organizations utilized Summer Fridays as part of their PTO offerings. Today, it has since risen by 30 percent and is no longer limited to just New York City.
However, it is important to note that not every industry can afford to implement Summer Fridays. For example, the retail and food industries are often the busiest during the warmer months. The good news is that employers can get creative with this PTO trend to make it a reality for their employees. Some employers choose to go the “traditional” route with half days on Fridays; others do it with every other Friday off; some split employees into groups, so they aren’t all taking the same Friday off, and some even do a four-day work week during the summer months. With a bit of creative thinking and coordination, employers could find a solution that fits both the company’s productivity needs and the needs of their employees.
Benefits of Summer Fridays
We can all recall the feeling of the last day of school before summer vacation, how excited we were for, well, a break! Now, as working adults, we have forgotten the importance of having a work-life balance for our mental and physical health. About 69 percent of workers have faced some level of burnout while working remotely. While not a permanent solution to burnout, it can help ease the hustle-and-bustle by allowing time to build more rest into the week.
In addition to curbing burnout, Summer Fridays give employees several additional benefits: taking advantage of the warmer weather and longer days, giving them time to take care of the “adulting” tasks they’ve been putting off, and allowing them to get a head start on their weekend. Plus, if you’re a parent, the flexibility of Summer Fridays means one less day you have to worry about finding child care.
Employers are sure to benefit from Summer Fridays as well. As employees get the rest that they deserve, they will be more motivated to work and perform at a higher level. You’ll boost morale among your employees in addition to increasing productivity. In fact, 85 percent of employees who have a Summer Fridays perk feel happier at work. Just as students are more motivated to perform well on their finals before summer vacation, so will employees when they have a long weekend ahead.
It’s in the employers’ and the employees’ best interest to offer a Summer Fridays perk, especially in a post-pandemic world where work-life balance reigns supreme. Employers should consider adjusting their benefits policies to accommodate this balance as a means to retain talent. Employees know that companies are starting to permanently change their time off policies and are unwilling to stick around with companies that are failing to adapt to their needs.
How to Use Your PTO to Take Summer Fridays
Want to start incorporating Summer Fridays? Here’s how you can use your existing PTO to take them:
- First, decide how many days of PTO you have to budget for your Summer Fridays. Let’s say you only have 10 days of PTO but don’t have any other travel scheduled for the year. Maybe you use five days to take five full Fridays off or four days to take eight half days.
- Then, decide when you want to take those days. Do you want them consecutive or dispersed throughout the summer?
- Once you have your days sets, communicate your planned days off as early as you can to your manager to make sure you get your PTO approved and that someone else can cover your work.
If your company already has a Summer Fridays policy in place, consider adding on to it—maybe start your Summer Fridays before Memorial Day and extend them to after Labor Day, or take full days instead of half days. If Fridays are not available for you to take off, look into taking another weekday off instead (Mondays are a great option, so you still get a long weekend).
Whether you are reminiscing about those carefree summer days or feeling left out of all the outdoor activities, make the most of the season with Summer Fridays– even if you don't leave your backyard.