Staff survey finds overwhelming support for summer early release program

Case Western Reserve’s staff overwhelmingly reported enjoying the opportunity to leave early on Fridays this past summer—and they feel even more strongly that the program should be repeated in 2016.

The findings come from an online survey that more than 870 employees completed regarding a pilot program that allowed staff to leave at 3 p.m. on eight Fridays in June and July—without any decrease in pay.

Announced last spring by President Barbara R. Snyder, the initiative emerged from suggestions offered last year in surveys of faculty and staff at each school. Because financial constraints have limited the size of the university’s salary pool in recent years, respondents urged campus leaders to consider other ways to show staff their efforts are valued.

“I applaud those who took the time to make suggestions like the one that led to this summer’s pilot program,” President Snyder said. “I also appreciate the additional effort that managers made to ensure that staff could take the extra time—and also ensure that university offices completed necessary functions.”

More than 225 supervisors completed a separate electronic questionnaire about their experiences with the program, and they too reported positive effects and supported continuing the program next year. Because of the nature of their work, some staff could not take off time in two-hour afternoon blocks at the end of the week. In such instances employees arranged with administrators and coworkers to use the time during another weekday or, in some cases, bundled their hours to be able to take off a full day or days.

Nearly 70 percent of employees said arranging schedules to take the offered time was “not difficult at all,” while just over 20 percent said it required some conversations but was “still pretty easy.” That said, about 10 percent of employees reported they were unable to participate in the program. In addition, even though 95 percent of employees said they would like to program to continue in 2016, more than a third of staff said they would have preferred a larger raise.

Meanwhile, nearly 80 percent of supervisors recommended the program continue, and nearly half said it put people in better spirits during the summer. Another 50 percent called it a “huge success,” while 25 percent said it provided “modest benefit.”

University leaders will not decide whether to offer the program in 2016 until early next year. If it does continue, officials emphasized that notice will arrive earlier than last year’s April announcement. The hope will be that the extra time will allow offices to prepare more effectively to ensure all employees are able to participate in some way.

“We decided it was better to launch this year rather than take months to settle every potential scenario,” Vice President for Human Resources Carolyn Gregory said. “Even so, we regret that some people were unable to participate and hope that the summer’s lessons will help us be more proactive in future employee incentive programs, no matter what particular form they take.”