Thinking of cutting your employees some slack in their work schedules this summer? You may be giving them exactly what they want. According to a 2012 survey by OfficeTeam, employees rank flexible schedules as the #1 summer perk.
Beyond making workers happy, flexible schedules can reap benefits for your business, such as better performance and greater loyalty among employees, notes Janet Flewelling, managing director of service operations at Insperity, a human resources provider.
Here are three ways to change up your staff’s schedules this summer (and still keep operations running smoothly):
1. Allow people to leave early on Fridays. Employees work only half days on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day at Grasshopper, a company that offers virtual phone systems for entrepreneurs. To make this happen yet maintain productivity levels, “communication needs to be high,” notes Taylor Aldredge, a digital and social marketer for the company.
The company holds one-on-one meetings between employees and managers every other week to review goals and career growth. In addition, every department has a meeting at the beginning of the week to check in. “The more you talk and manage goals throughout the week and month, the better prepared you are for time off in the summer,” Aldredge says.
Alternately, some companies let workers take every other Friday off.
2. Let employees work from home. A recent Staples survey shows that 75 percent of leaders say that telecommuting makes for happier employees. But before you send employees home with a stack of things to do, create a setup that works both for them and your small business.
Start by deciding which tasks can be done remotely. Consider doing a brief trial run, and then evaluate the situation. For instance, if you give an employee a specific project to do at home over the course of three days, follow up to see whether the project was completed on time. If not, you’ll want to talk to your worker about why it didn’t happen — and reconsider his or her work-at-home strategy accordingly.
3. Relax a few rules at the office. Even while employees are at work, you can take measures to increase flexibility. For instance, offer to bring in breakfast or lunch on a specific day and allow workers to take an extended break to enjoy the meal. Or perhaps even bring in a chef for a cooking class for a fun group activity. The time spent together could lead to higher rates of productivity and motivation among your employees.
You might also allow employees to bring in their kids to work for a day, Flewelling suggests. Parents may appreciate the opportunity, and children can learn about the company and get exposed to ideas for a future career. If your employees don’t have children, invite them to bring their pets instead.