Today is a Friday in late July. I am not at work.
Perhaps, however, you are at work. In that case, perhaps you should think about working someplace else.
I say this because a new survey shows that almost half of all U.S. businesses now offer their employees "Summer Fridays," meaning either a free day off every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day or at least the right to knock off work early on Fridays.
Research firm Gartner says 46 percent of U.S. businesses surveyed now provide the perk, and that number has been growing fast: up 15 percent from last year and up 30 percent from when Gartner apparently first started asking the question in 2012.
When you consider that there are many businesses that simply can't offer the option of taking Fridays off (let's start with restaurants and retail shops and wind our way through police departments and hospitals), the percentage is even more striking.
"Of course work is important, but so is a manageable work-life balance," said Brian Kropp, group vice president of the HR practice at Gartner. "When employees feel their employer cares about them and wants them to have a healthy work-life balance, they are often more loyal to their organization."
The Summer Fridays tradition is supposedly rooted in the New York City advertising and media industries, when bosses realized their employees weren't doing much that was productive on Friday afternoons during the summer and decided to turn it into the world's least costly perk.
I mean, if your entire industry isn't doing much on Friday anyway, it's no big deal for your employer to let you leave early. But speaking of the employer, if your company is among the 54 percent not offering this perk, there are three things to consider:
- Are you missing out on employees who value Summer Fridays enough not to work for you?
- Are you in fact, as the boss, setting the example by working on Fridays alongside your employees?
- Are you actually gaining anything from putting in the extra hours on Friday when the statistics suggest a good portion of your competition is not?
I'd suggest looking at No. 3 especially carefully. Perhaps there's one other thing to consider as well. If everyone gets Summer Fridays, doesn't that mean that Summer Fridays are no longer such a great perk?
Maybe I'm just getting older, but the whole thing makes me want to push for a new perk: Summer Mondays, or maybe even Tuesdays. Better to have the day off when everyone else doesn't.