Early release program to continue this summer; rename the program for chance to win $100 gift card

President Barbara R. Snyder announced today that last summer’s pilot program allowing employees to leave early on Fridays will continue this summer—with the addition of one more early Friday than in 2015.

The decision comes after surveys about the program indicated that 95 percent of staff and 78 percent of supervisors wanted it to continue this year. Nearly 72 percent of employees said that they appreciated the time off every week, and 46 percent said the program showed that the university values their work.

“This university depends on the dedication and skill of our staff to achieve our missions of teaching and research,” President Snyder said. “Their contributions make an enormous difference for Case Western Reserve, and this program represents one way to demonstrate our gratitude.”

The Fridays affected are: June 3, 10, 17 and 24, and July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. (Because Monday, July 4, is a federal holiday, staff will have an even longer break that weekend.)

In most instances, employees will be able to depart at 3 p.m. on Fridays, or another time that is two hours before the end of their workday. In areas that service the public or members of the university community, supervisors are expected to arrange staff schedules so that their offices remain open during normal business hours.

The president chose to announce the continuation of the program now for two reasons. First, today is national Employee Appreciation Day. Second, one of the concerns survey respondents cited about last year’s program was late notice (the university told the community about the 2015 program on April 21).

“We know that the nature of duties or time-sensitive needs of offices mean that some staff will not be able to take the time in two-hour chunks each Friday afternoon,” Vice President for Human Resources Carolyn Gregory said. “Supervisors and employees in many parts of campus were able to make arrangements that provided the time off in other ways—for example, on different days of the week, or in part as vacation days. We hope this earlier announcement will allow more staff to be able to participate in the program this summer.”

In addition, one employee will have the opportunity to win a $100 Amazon gift card. How? By coming up with a new name for the program. Both the surveys and anecdotal comments indicated dislike of the phrase “early release.” Several suggested the term evoked images of prisons. The Office of Human Resources is seeking suggestions for a better title; the person who submits the one selected will received a $100 gift card.

Suggestions can be made through an online form by Friday, March 11. The results will be announced before the end of this month.

In 2015, 78 percent of employees reported participating in the program on Fridays, where staff were permitted to leave two hours early with no reduction in pay. Another 12 percent reported they were able to take the paid time off on other days. But 10 percent said they were unable to participate in 2015, a figure Gregory hopes to lower significantly this year.

“Our office is eager to assist supervisors and employees in finding solutions that work for both groups and the university as a whole,” Gregory said. “We encourage those with questions to contact us.”