Adam Laskaris Photo
Sometimes leaving work an hour or two early on a summer weekend can make the difference between sitting in traffic for hours on Highway 400 and getting to the cottage in time for dinner and a refreshing swim in the lake before dark.
Therefore, it is not surprising that a new OfficeTeam survey of employees reveals flexible scheduling and leaving work early on Fridays are the most coveted summer benefits.
When asked which of the following summer benefits they would most like to have, employees ranked the options presented as follows:
Flexible schedules – 44 per cent
Leave early on Fridays – 37 per cent
More relaxed dress code – 8 per cent
Activities such as a summer picnic, potluck – 5 per cent
But few employers have warmed up to these prized summer perks. Only 23 per cent of HR managers interviewed said their company offers flexible schedules during the summer and 20 per cent allow staff to leave early on Fridays. However over one-third of executives indicated their organization has activities such as a company picnic or potluck.
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Workplace flexibility is one of the many reasons that legal publishing company Carswell was selected as one of Canada’s 2012 Top 100 Employers. The company’s year-round compressed work week allows for early closings every Friday. Employees can also bank overtime, earning up to 10 additional days off each year.
“Workers appreciate having more control over their schedules as the juggle personal and professional obligations,” says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Organizations that don’t offer summer benefits in some form may be missing out on a way to increase employee morale and retention.”
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Aldo Cundari CEO of the advertising agency of the same name, gives its 135 employees in Toronto and Montreal employees a half-day off on Fridays before long weekends. There are other seasonal activities like a summer kick-off party held at a local restaurant with a silent auction that raises money for selected charities; a visit from an ice cream truck; boot camp in the company gym; and an office volleyball team.
“The pressure in this business is just nasty and head hunters are always after talented people so we are constantly looking for ways to motivate our employees and encourage them to stay,” Cundari says. “While the average annual industry turnover is around 28%, even in a recession our yearly turnover is typically around 11 or 12 per cent.”