Human Resources: Maximizing Productivity During Short Work Weeks

In the United States, the average workplace has around 10-12 holidays where the office is closed. This means that, on average, one week every month in a typical company is a shortened four-day workweek. Although holiday weekends are largely positive for companies – research shows shorter weeks can lead to increased employee productivity – it’s important to make sure employees stay focused during shortened holiday weeks. Here are four ways human resources can help boost employee productivity during four-day weeks:

Eliminate non-essential meetings and tasks. Meetings are important, but requiring employees to transition frequently between tasks makes it harder for them to stay focused and productive. On holiday weeks, when fewer employees are in the office, it makes sense to postpone or cancel as many nonessential meetings and to-dos as possible so employees can focus on their most important, essential job duties.

Allow for some employee flexibility. After three days away from the office, some employees will have a more difficult time restarting their work than after a traditional work-week. Encourage managers to let employees start their work weeks from home, if possible, or work flexible hours. Good, hard-working employees often are more productive when allowed more flexibility, especially after a break.

Encourage employees to take their breaks. Depending on state law, companies are mandated to give workers an unpaid lunch break and paid short breaks periodically. Sometimes employees will feel behind after a long weekend and try to skip breaks, which is ultimately illegal and reduces productivity. Human resources and managers can both give verbal and emailed encouragement for employees to take their legally required breaks, both the week before the long weekend and the first morning back at work.

Make the workplace welcoming the first morning back. Even employees who love their jobs can be a little unenthusiastic about waking up in the morning after extended time off. Human resources and managers can help improve morale the morning after a long weekend by making sure they’re in the office on time and cheerfully greeting employees. Make sure to have hot coffee, and consider buying employees breakfast items.

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