Human capital management experts have recognised the trend and say that while there are benefits in the short term, they have mixed feelings about the long-term implications.
Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit, says this trend is not surprising, especially as international markets reassess their operations to accommodate hybrid employees, and ideas like four-day work weeks are being taken a lot more seriously.
“But we have to consider the practicalities of any significant change in the workplace environment. In theory, the suggestion that employees can knock off early on a Friday and start their weekend sooner makes sense and shouldn’t pose too many problems. In practice, however, it can be a different story and as with any change or proposition, all requirements, targets and business objectives have to be considered.”
CRS Technologies says the reality of today’s business market is that traditional work environments and rules no longer apply.
“They’re not relevant to market requirements or the aspirations of a younger generation entering the job market. Today, flexibility is a priority, as is the capacity to accommodate mobile workers who thrive in digital-first environments. However, irrespective of what trends emerge or what dominates the hiring and recruitment process, the fact remains that company policy and labour law have to be complied with,” Myburgh adds.
Online research by CRS Technologies emphasises the point that much depends on the kind of business, the nature of its industry, its goals/vision and mission, its size and its key deliverables.
Myburgh says that the idea of early finish Fridays seems to have caught on in markets, including the UK and in Europe.
“It’s understandable; during the summer months when the weather is better, employees would relish the opportunity to enjoy a ‘long’ weekend. In colder climates, like the UK and many other European countries, skilled workers will seriously consider this perk in their decision-making.”
CRS Technologies says geographic location doesn’t really come into the picture when one weighs up the pros and cons of early finish Fridays.
“It’s easy to see the benefits, but there are some challenges that have to be recognised; it’s not all plain sailing. Aspects like longer working hours during the week to compensate, and one of the pitfalls of being an ‘always-on’ business, is that it’s almost impossible to really switch off. We also know that having some time off is all good and well, but not everyone has that privilege, so one might find having that time off on your own is not as great as first envisaged.”
However a business approaches this trend, CRS Technologies advises careful attention to South Africa’s labour law and compliance with company policy.
“We are always available to guide our clients through the often complex labour legislation and compliance requirements. We work in a different world today, the nine-to-five ‘at the desk’ and punching in the clock doesn’t exist anymore; business owners and managers need to realise this and take the most appropriate action. Having skills on-board is a non-negotiable,” Myburgh concludes.