Flexible Schedules, Dress Codes, Vacations and Work Outings

As an employer, it seems that the appearance of firework advertisements and white clothing bring along with it a reminder for companies large and small: the onset of the summer season.

The unspoken rule is that the summer season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and this is the time of year when you might find yourself debating flexible work schedules, less restrictive workplace dress codes and planning summertime activities and events. The goal is to prepare events and activities that encourage camaraderie between employees as well as an opportunity to enjoy warmer weather and, depending on the industry, a decreased volume in work.

Before debating what best removes barbecue sauce from white linen pants, it is recommended that you partner with your Human Resources professionals in establishing a plan for summer-specific topics and activities. It is important to ensure that a proactive agenda, rather than a reactive response is formulated with regard to these topics.

The topics that you’ll most likely see cross your desk this summer are the following:

  • Compressed Workweeks/Flexible Work Schedules
  • Casual Dress Code
  • Vacation Requests
  • Summer Internship Programs
  • Work-sponsored Activities

The goal is to prepare events and activities that encourage camaraderie between employees as well as an opportunity to enjoy warmer weather and, depending on the industry, a decreased volume in work.

Work schedules
Due to extended daylight hours and enticing warm weather, especially for those residing in the cooler regions of the country, employees may show interest in working an alternate work schedule during the summer season. As many businesses experience a decreased workload during this time-frame, it is recommended that the senior management team considers an alternate or compressed work week schedule. You should, however, keep in mind that this alternate schedule must be applied equitably to employees and its implementation must assure that adequate staffing will remain in place.

Casual summer dress codes
Dress codes are another subject that often leaves managers perplexed. Whereas many otherwise professional business or business casual oriented work environments may craft a relaxed summertime dress code, especially in regions where the temperatures may rise along with the humidity, it is essential that dress code expectations are clearly disseminated to all employees in order to assure clarity with regard to the appropriateness of attire in a relaxed summertime dress code. It is recommended that a memo is distributed company wide prior to the onset of the warmer season. This will provide employees with an opportunity to review and acknowledge the parameters in place for a relaxed dress code during the summer months. It is imperative to clearly communicate that the standard dress code may be implemented at any time during the summer months, especially if the company will have clients or prospective customers visiting its location.

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Vacation and Paid Time Off
Time off request are an area of dilemma for many managers. With summer being a sought after time of year for employees to travel and enjoy their time off, companies should incorporate a strategic and equitable process by which they grant vacation. Some organizations require employees to submit vacation requests at the beginning of the calendar year; others have more lenient procedures. Whatever vacation approval procedure your organization chooses to elect, it is imperative to ensure that a consistent process is in place to avoid a perceived or actual situation of discrimination or favoritism. When employees submit vacation requests earlier in the year, it enables managers to plan accordingly with staffing availability as well as work with employees on altering the requested time off. Whether the company uses seniority or a sequential method to decide which employees will be granted time off per their requests, employees will perceive a process that is consistent to be more equitable, in turn reducing the company’s exposure to liability.

Planning summertime activities
When your planning an event you have several factors to address, including whether an event will be during business hours or outside regular working hours; whether family members will be included in the activity and whether alcoholic beverages will be permitted at the employer-sponsored event.

Company picnics are a popular choice as they provide employers with an opportunity to host a casual, relatively inexpensive event for employees. Permitting family members to attend is an ideal means of encouraging employees to introduce their colleagues and their family members to one another.

You should keep in mind that although such an event may be casual in nature, it is an employer-sponsored event, and therefore, employees are expected to adhere to the employer’s policies with regard to their behavior at the event. Employers should therefore have a clearly designated drug and alcohol policy in place which includes company sponsored events whether offsite or onsite within its guidelines regarding employee behavior.

Summertime is a great time of year for employees to feel more relaxed as they anticipate lower work volumes, vacation time, less stringent dress codes, and flexible work weeks. By implementing clearly drafted workplace policies regarding the topics discussed in this article, you will be well-prepared to address the summer season and the workplace changes that arrive with the influx of white and brightly colored fabrics.