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July 13, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Is the cost of college education stealing the American dream from Millennials?

Millennials are moving back with their parents in droves, and in last week’s post we discussed how this trend benefits their careers. A lot of readers responded that while this living situation may help their professional life, it wasn’t their motivation for moving home. Turns out, student debt is a huge driving factor behind this cultural shift.

One specific comment caught my attention:

“Millennials are living at home because most have student loans that are hard to pay off. So instead of getting a mortgage, they’re paying off $100k+ in student loans.” 

Most people know college isn’t free, but when we hear of tuition increases year after year, it should give everyone pause. The increasing costs of higher education simply aren’t sustainable for the majority of students. And as this reader points out, it’s making the American dream unattainable for an entire generation.

Some economists fear an education bubble is bound to pop in the near future. Couple skyrocketing student debt with a market in which graduates outpace the demand for labor and you get disaster. Of course you’re going to move in with your parents if you can’t find a decent-paying job and you are stuck with $37,000 of student debt  the average amount for the graduating class of 2016.

Some people argue that students are being oversold on what a college degree means in the modern world. A diploma today does not automatically equal high pay and job security, and most students do not have an offer waiting when they graduate. In fact, when they get that diploma, the real work is just about to begin.

Students today must make tough decisions because college does not make sense for everyone. For an 18-year-old with minimal financial literacy, it’s difficult to understand the long-term ramifications of paying back a large student loan. The standard repayment plan is 10 years for federal student loans, but research shows it takes an average of 21 years to pay off a bachelor’s degree. That means if a student graduates from college at 22, they’ll finally pay off those darn student loans when they’re 43 years old.

This leads to the next important consideration: Which degree will most likely result in a well-paying job? Of course students should study something that interests them, but that shouldn’t be the only factor in their decision. The Bureau of Labor Statistics website outlines what students can expect to make throughout a chosen career. It notes growth projections and cautions, too. Students can also talk with current professionals in the industry and ask questions. Is a four-year degree necessary or will a two-year do the job? Will the student have to move to a new city to find a job or is there demand in their current location?

The choice to attend college is an individual one, and like a smart business, if the ROI doesn’t make sense it’s time to look at different options. If costs continue to increase, I predict more young people will look at alternatives to the traditional university experience, such as trade schools, in-house apprenticeships or self-education followed by freelancing.

July 7, 2016 / Toby Dayton

The Full Employment, Healthy Tortoise U.S. Economy Should Add 50,000 Jobs In June

Dispatch from New Hampshire:

…not much time this week for commentary and in any event, I’m still reeling from the complete and utter insanity displayed in recent weeks on both sides of the Atlantic. The only solace we can take on our side of the ocean is that Trump has absolutely zero, ZERO, chance of winning (no TV commercials since June 8th as compared to HRC’s 20,000?!? Apparently he isn’t even going to pretend to be trying). And as stupefying as Cleveland is sure to be, it should provide some entertainment in a horrifyingly embarrassing, gong-show sort of way.

So still in somewhat of a daze, I’ll simply say that we are most definitely in a full employment environment with 68 consecutive months of net job gains, unemployment at ~5%, job openings pretty much holding steady at record levels, quits and job churn climbing rapidly, and most importantly and most welcomed, wages rising in larger and larger portions of the economy.



Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 9.06.21 AM


So it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that as it becomes harder and harder to find applicants to fill open positions, job gains are starting to taper off.


Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 9.02.00 AM


..and job duration starting to climb…


Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 9.24.46 AM


The chart above is LinkUp’s Job Duration indicator. We measure Job Duration by taking all the jobs that rolled off our job search engine in the prior 6 months and calculating the average number of days that they had been on the site. In 2014, the average duration was 45 days, in 2015 it rose to 48 days, and in 2016, it is averaging 53 days. Employers are, without question, finding it increasingly difficult to fill a broader range of jobs in a wider cross-section of the economy.

Against that backdrop, we are forecasting that in June, the U.S. economy added a net gain of 50,000 jobs. Our forecast does account for the return of the striking Verizon workers (which we added back to May’s numbers in the chart below), and is based on the declines in new and total job openings in our search engine over the past few months.


Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.43.03 AM


The numbers might be a bit of a jolt, and the headlines Saturday won’t be great, but make no mistake – the economy and especially the labor market are in very strong shape. I cannot recall who it was, but an economist on Bloomberg last week stated that the U.S. economy is not a sickly hare but a very healthy tortoise. That is a perfect description, and everything we are seeing in our data and hearing in conversations every day with hundreds and hundreds of employers around the country backs that general observation.

And LinkUp’s job openings data from June further confirms that conclusion.


Jobs by State June 2016


Although total job openings held steady during the month, new job openings rose 4% in June, with gains in 44 states. As a result, we expect that the labor market should keep plodding along at a slow, steady, and resilient pace for at least the remainder of Q3.

So for anyone who really does want to keep the U.S. economy on track with strong job growth, ignore the senseless drivel coming out Trump’s mouth (nothing, including a trade war with China, is going to bring back manufacturing jobs in America. Seriously, read this), and simply look at the facts.

The chart below from January (Washington Post), shows average yearly job growth under the past 6 administrations.


Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.48.56 AM


Under President Obama, 10.5 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy through April. And if you start counting after the decimation of the Bush-induced Great Recession had finally subsided, net job gains were 14.1 million.


Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.50.56 AM



Those are the facts, and anyone who tells you differently, especially orange-haired clowns, should be cast aside and resolutely ignored like one would any brainless, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, bankruptcy-addicted, fraudulent, steak-selling, 2nd-rate reality TV carnival barker.




July 7, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Move home to move up: Are Millennials living with their parents to boost their career?

shutterstock_252018253Lazy, entitled, self-involved — millennials face a lot of harsh stereotypes. As more make the decision to move back home with their parents, these stereotypes perpetuate. But is there more to this cultural shift than meets the eye?

Nearly one in three millennials lives with his or her parents. In fact, for the first time in more than 130 years, more Americans ages 18–34 live with their parents than in any other living situation, according to the Pew Research Center. That means living at home edged out living alone, living with a roommate, and cohabitating with a spouse or partner in a place of their own.

For past generations, living with parents as an adult was, to a point, a mark of failure. It certainly wasn’t something you’d necessarily lead with in a conversation. Today, millennials accept the practice with no shame involved. Turns out, many are moving home for very respectable and responsible reasons.

One of those reasons is to benefit their career. Starting and excelling in the workforce can be extremely difficult for young professionals, and living at home makes a difference.

From a financial perspective, moving home has obvious benefits. By eliminating rent and many of the associated expenses, millennials can pay off school loans more quickly and save more money. This eliminates a huge stress factor so they can focus more on their career development and less on how they are going to pay the bills each month. Plus, they can work longer hours without a ton of worry about home maintenance and other property demands.

What’s more, while millennials deserve a decent wage, they no longer are held to making a certain amount of money. That means they can take the lower-paying job at the company they really want to work for with awesome career training rather than a higher-paying job at a company where there is less potential to advance. Basically, they have the luxury to think about the big picture.

Having a support network nearby is another important benefit for millennials living at home. The emotional support parents provide can curb professional stresses and other hurdles that are new to young workers. Knowing you have someone who supports you every day makes a huge difference when you have a tough week (or month!) at work.

Of course, this support goes beyond the emotional. Many millennials have parents who have worked for 30 or more years. Some have completed their careers and are now retired. They can provide valuable advice about the workplace, which only comes with time and tenure. Having professional support when working through difficulties with supervisors, collaboration with co-workers and career advancement can be extremely helpful. This empowers millennials on many levels and helps them develop into mature, responsible leaders.

“Move home to move up” seems to be the plan for millennials who want to advance their career. If you’re a millennial, do you agree? If you’re a parent of a millennial who moved home, do you believe it’s helped your son or daughter succeed?

July 5, 2016 / Rochelle Dickinson

LinkUp ranks the top U.S. cities for new college graduate job seekers 

shutterstock_230410570Now that July is upon us, most of the spring graduation ceremonies should be over and the graduation parties are in full swing. But once the parties are over, do these new graduates know which U.S. cities will offer them the most opportunities?

Using a variety of economic measures along with LinkUp’s unique dataset of 3 million jobs from 30,000 companies, we reviewed the top 30 U.S. cities by population to determine which 5 cities would offer the most opportunities for new graduates.

Here are the top five cities:

1 Minneapolis – St. Paul 17,549
2 Washington, DC 27,538
3 Dallas-Fort Worth 24,925
4 Denver 16,291
5 San Francisco Bay area 35,457


The Twin Cities rank #1 in our list for a variety of reasons:

  • Low unemployment rate at 3.4%, well below the U.S. average of 4.7%.
  • 26 Fortune 1,000 companies such as Target, 3M, Best Buy, and UnitedHealth Group.
  • 6th highest median hourly wage at $20.14. Money will go further in the Twin Cities considering it ranks #17 out of 30 in cost of living and #18 in median home costs.
  • A highly educated workforce: ranked #4 out of 30 for most educated workforce.
  • The economy is highly diversified (government, higher education, health care, arts and entertainment, consumer and producer goods), which contributes to strong labor market conditions.

If you can withstand your first winter in Minnesota, you may just find yourself calling Minnesota “home” for a long time to come.


A highly educated workforce, significant job openings, and a diversified economy make Washington, DC #2 on our list. Highlights include:

  • Low unemployment rate at 3.5%
  • Strong spending on public education with an average of $15,555 spent/student and only 14 students/teacher in public schools.
  • Highest median hourly wage among the 30 cities at $24.37.
  • 30 Fortune 1,000 companies including General Dynamics, Capital One Financial, Northrop Grumman, and Dollar Tree.
  • High concentrations of federal offices and military contractors.

Although, the DC metro area has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S. (#5 ranking), the high salaries and plethora of opportunities make this an ideal location for new graduates.


The Dallas-Fort Worth area, often referred to as The Metroplex is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the U.S. The low cost of living coupled with a high concentration of corporate headquarters place The Metroplex at #3 on our list. Strengths include:

  • 38 Fortune 1,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil, American Airlines, AT&T, and Texas Instruments.
  • Cost of living at 3% less than the U.S. average.
  • Median home price of just over $200,000.
  • Low unemployment rate at 3.5%.

The Metroplex does rank fairly low in both hourly wages (#21 out of 30) and educated workforce (#22 out of 30). But, the low cost of living helps to offset the low wages and the less educated workforce makes for less competition for new college graduates.


The Mile High City provides recent college graduates with unparalleled beauty, solid economic conditions, and an attractive quality of life. Highpoints include:

  • Lowest unemployment rate among the 30 cities at 3.3%
  • Ranks among top 10 cities for hourly wage, educated workforce, and population growth.
  • 19 Fortune 1,000 companies including Arrow Electronics, DISH Network, DaVita HealthCare Partners, and Molson Coors Brewing.

Although Denver came in #4 on our list mainly due to mid-range number of job openings and higher cost of living, U.S. News & World Report recently named Denver as the #1 place to live among large U.S. cities.


The Bay Area’s fifth-place ranking reflects its many attractions, yet it poses some challenges to new college grads. Highlights include:

  • Extremely high number of job openings especially in highly sought after fields such as high tech and engineering.
  • Second highest median hourly wage at $24.19.
  • Low unemployment rate at 3.7%.
  • 24 Fortune 1,000 companies including Apple, McKesson, Chevron, HP, and Alphabet (formerly known as Google).

The Bay Area’s proximity to Silicon Valley and high income jobs make it an attractive destination, but the extremely high cost of living means that recent grads are likely to share apartments or face long commutes.

LinkUp would like to wish all the 2016 graduates much success in their career search. To find your next job, go to www.linkup.com to search the highest quality job listings available on the web today.


The LinkUp analytics team used a variety of measures to determine this top 5 ranking:

  • Number of Jobs: Based on new jobs created in May 2016 from LinkUp’s dataset of 3 million jobs from 30,000 companies (linkup.com).
  • Population Growth: Bureau of Labor Statistics, % change from 2000 to 2010 (bls.gov)
  • Unemployment Rate: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016 (bls.gov)
  • Cost of Living: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Fortune 1,000 Companies: 2015 list (http://beta.fortune.com/fortune500/)
  • Median Hourly Wage: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016 (bls.gov)
  • Public School Spend/Student: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Public School Students/Teacher: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Median Home Cost: 2015 revised (www.realtor.org)
  • Most Educated Cities: Updated 2015 (wallethub.com)

Extra weight was given to Number of Jobs, Unemployment Rate, Cost of Living, Number of Fortune 1,000 companies and Median Hourly Wage.

If you are interested in adding LinkUp jobs as backfill for your website, contact us today.

June 30, 2016 / Molly Moseley

I quit! When giving notice is not necessary

An overworked, unhappy employee finally hits the breaking point. He walks straight into the boss’s office to declare “I quit!” He packs his things and strolls confidently out the door.

This scene is depicted often in movies and TV shows. If you’ve ever hated your job, you’ve probably dreamed of quitting on the spot. However, quitting without notice can leave a black mark on your record that can haunt you for years down the road. How do you decide between what’s right and what’s right for you?

The general rule is to give two weeks’ notice to an employer before you quit. It’s a courtesy that allows the company some time to transition your job duties. Quitting the same day, however, leaves many businesses in a jam, especially if you work for a smaller company. It will be difficult for your colleagues to feel happy for you when they have to work overtime to cover the tasks you’re no longer completing.

That being said, the working world is changing. Employee and employer loyalty is waning in many industries, plus most states allow termination of employment by either party at any time. That means there’s no legal requirement for you or your employer to give notice when dissolving a working relationship.

Is it OK then to quit without notice? I would say yes, under some circumstances. As a best practice, I recommend trying to give some notice before you depart. But if you experience any of the situations below, trust your gut and feel good about quitting on the spot.

Going to a competitor
Many companies have strict policies that employees going to work for competitors must quit immediately. If this is the case, the procedure is usually well known, and therefore quitting same day is OK.

If you’re being harassed, discriminated against or your safety is at risk, there’s no need to give notice. Your security is more important. Leave immediately and file the appropriate complaints.

Criminal activity
If you notice illegal practices at your place of work, do not give notice. You could be an accessory to the crime if uncovered. Two weeks is not worth potential jail time.

Toxic environment
If your work environment if so toxic that it’s effecting your mental health, bring up concerns with your supervisor and HR. If nothing changes, quitting on the spot to protect your well-being is appropriate.

Financial ramifications
If you’re unsure your employer will allow you to work through your notice period, but you need the money to make ends meet, you may have to give a shorter notice or no notice at all to ensure you get the necessary funds. Alternatively, ask your future employer if your start date can be flexible based on whether your current employer has you work the two weeks or not.

Finally, before you quit same day, check the employee handbook to see if you’ll be sacrificing any benefits such as vacation time, sick time, severance or reimbursement expenses. If this is the case, it might make sense to give adequate notice.

June 23, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Women in the draft take equality to new heights

Women today are encouraged to lean in, fight for equal pay and break glass ceilings. This is easier said than done, as challenges remain in many industries. One unlikely institution, however, is breaking the mold by offering equal pay and equal opportunity to all genders and ethnicities: the U.S. military.

First, Defense Sec. Ash Carter announced last year that he was opening all combat jobs to women. Women no longer face restrictions regarding where they can serve and what they can do. The sky is the limit, military ladies.

Next, just last week the Senate voted to approve a bill that included an amendment requiring women to register for the Selective Service. Currently, men ages 18–25 are required to register, yet women are not. Though the U.S. hasn’t had a draft since the Vietnam War, registration of both men and women would dramatically increase the number of people in the Selective Service System.

While the bill still has a long way to go before becoming law, opponents are already speaking out. I am baffled by the double standard. If women want equality, it can’t be situational. We already live in a world where that’s the case, and it’s what we’ve been protesting for generations. We must demand equality and fully embrace what that means — both the good and bad, from the boardroom to the battlefield.

As a female veteran of the Air Force Reserve, the training, experience and educational benefits I received have been invaluable. I know I will support and encourage my two young daughters to serve, should they decide or be required to do so. I believe this amendment and Defense Sec. Carter’s decision set a healthy precedent that could encourage more women to join the military. These developments are important in terms of equality, responsibility and unity.

Equality: If women want to be treated equally to men, we should expect to serve equally. Requiring women to sign up for Selective Service removes yet another difference between genders. Plus, though women are still a minority in the military, it is one of the few “employers” that actually provides women equal pay to their male counterparts.

Responsibility: Protecting our country is everyone’s responsibility. Whether or not you agree with the military’s mission, you benefit from the safety and security it provides in the place you call home. Plus, the Selective Service has an Alternative Service Program available, if you identify as a conscientious objector should another draft occur.

Unity: Having to register for the draft when of age would become a common experience, and I believe it would increase unity throughout populations. We live in a diverse country. The nation is a melting pot of different religions, heritages and viewpoints. However, most people feel the country is more divided than ever before (simply check out 2016 election coverage for an example). Wouldn’t it be great if we could rally around a common mission?

Equal pay and plentiful opportunity? The tides are changing for women’s equality, and the ladies leading the way are proudly wearing a U.S. military uniform.

June 14, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Adult Internships: A Growing Trend for Career Changers

Photo by Francois Duhamel – © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Chandler takes an internship at an ad agency? Older than the other interns, they initially mistake him for senior management by quickly offering him coffee and calling him “sir.” Although his supervisor is two years younger, he uses the experience to jump-start a new career — and of course plenty of comical moments ensue.

If you watched this episode on its first run, your age makes his experience even more relatable. Most people think of high school seniors and college graduates when it comes to internships. The idea of an older intern is generally enduring and funny, as shown in recent Hollywood movies like Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro’s The Intern.

But for many people, taking an internship at an advanced age is no joke. Some professionals give up their careers to move in order to prioritize a spouse’s professional endeavors. Others exit the job market to have or care for children. When it comes time to hop back on the career bandwagon, it can be a struggle to get noticed. It’s not much easier for career-changers.

Fortunately, more companies are realizing the value of having adult internships that focus on these demographics. This includes SMBs like Wunderlich Kaplan Communications, which started an Enternship program to assist women over 40 who want to re-enter the workplace. It also includes Fortune 500 companies like Goldman Sachs and their Returnship Program, which helps professionals restart their careers.

If you’re looking for valuable experience to change careers or re-enter an industry, an internship might be a good option. However, not any internship will do. It’s important to be selective, and ideally you’ll get paid. When applying, be honest about your history, employment gaps and reasons for pursuing the job. Look for options that are flexible so you can maintain other commitments, such as another job or family obligations. Make sure the internship has the responsibilities you desire so it’s a good use of both your time and the company’s.

Hopefully an internship will lead to full-time employment, but that is never a guarantee. Adopt the mindset that you’ll be getting good experience that you can add to your resume to make you more marketable. Plus, never forget the value of networking while interning. The contacts you make and references you earn while working are invaluable.

Still unsure about an adult internship? There are other alternatives that can help older professionals. If you have an impressive record of professional experience, you may qualify for a temp job in your focus market. Be prepared to explain how your skills can transfer into the new position and convey your enthusiasm as much as possible. Additionally, volunteering at a nonprofit in an area of interest may not be paid, but can provide fantastic experience and networking opportunities.

What other options are there for people looking to change careers or re-enter the market after an absence? Please add your ideas in the comments.

June 10, 2016 / Brad Squibb

ATS options by industry: Which systems companies use most

An estimated 90 percent or more of large companies use applicant tracking systems to help manage hiring efforts. By automating many parts of the application and evaluation process, the right ATS helps companies save incredible amounts of time and money.

The challenge for companies is, of course, to find the right system. There are hundreds of options available to suit different industries, objectives and price points. What are the most popular systems and what types of companies are using them?

The analytics experts at LinkUp decided to dig in to uncover the answers. After researching LinkUp’s unique dataset of 3 million jobs from 50,000 companies, we found some pretty compelling information. We identified nearly 150 ATS options currently in use, and while there are some clear winners, not everyone is opting for the heavy hitters.

Taleo software came out on top with 18 percent of all companies in our job search engine using the ATS, including Dow Chemical, Monsanto and McGraw-Hill. However, what was surprising was the same amount of companies (18 percent) were using their own proprietary ATS. That means rather than purchasing software services, these organizations developed their own custom system to meet their needs. For example, Apple, Google, Netflix and Facebook all have a custom ATS.

Because we love a good collection of compelling data, we decided to investigate further and find out whether the most popular ATS selections would vary by industry. After all, different industries can have vastly different hiring needs.

One of LinkUp’s unique offerings is the ability to classify job openings by industry based on the NAICS standard for classifying business establishments. We took a look at ATS options across industries or NAICS categories.

Key findings for ATS use by industry:

  • Some industries rely on only a few ATS options, such as Education and Government.
  • Some industries such as Retail and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation often use their own custom-made systems.
  • Industries such as Professional, Scientific and Technical Services appear to be more fragmented and have ATS selections that run the gamut.



Take a look our sampling of key industries and which ATS prove most popular respectively:

Health care

Research uncovered that companies posting health care and social assistance jobs used 82 different ATS options. The top five in this category include:


Professional services

Companies posting professional, scientific and technical services jobs used 74 different ATS options, research found. The top five include:



Companies posting jobs in educational services used 51 different ATS options, according to our study. Not surprisingly, the top five selections slanted toward education-focused ATS providers.



Government hiring agencies mostly use government-specific ATS options to meet their hiring needs. The top five that emerged in government job postings are:


Want to know what ATS providers are popular in other industries, including the manufacturing, retail, real estate, finance and more? Download the ATS Market Share Report now for free.

June 1, 2016 / Toby Dayton

Solid May Jobs Report & Full Employment Environment Will Push Fed To Raise Rates In June

Bloomberg shot


Bloomberg’s caption from yesterday morning’s discussion about the May jobs report says everything one needs to know about the significance of Friday’s report from the Department of Labor. It is arguably the most significant jobs report since the end of the Great Recession, and no amount of elaboration or additional commentary could possibly lend more weight to the simple pronouncement above that:


Leaving aside for a moment what we expect the Fed to do in June/July, we are forecasting net job growth of 200,000 jobs in May, taking into account the Verizon strike which will likely reduce job gains by roughly 36,000 jobs.



May 2016 Forecast


Our forecast is based on the 3.7% increase in March in new and total job listings in our search engine (which includes ~3.2 million job openings indexed daily directly from 50,000 company websites). Because there is an average lag of between 30-60 days from the time a company posts a job opening and when they fill the position with a new hire, we have to look back to March’s growth in job listings for signs of job growth in May.

But what makes our forecast a bit tricky is that the average number of days that jobs stay on LinkUp (what we call Job Duration) has fallen from 56 days in February to 50 days in May. While the decline in Job Duration points to an uptick in the velocity of hiring (of particularly note are the 1 million jobs that rolled off the site in the past 6 months that were on the site for less than 15 days), it could be the case that we should be looking at April’s LinkUp data instead of March’s data.


May 2016 Duration


The other sobering fact is that job listings on LinkUp have declined for two consecutive months. In April, new job listings fell 5% while in May, new job listings declined an alarming 15%. Looking at the ‘raw’ data for May, there are clear signs that the labor market is definitely softening as new job listings declined in 48 states and total job listings fell in 35 states.


May 2016 Jobs By State


May’s job listings by category report shows a similarly bleak picture, with new job listings declining in 30 of 33 categories and total jobs falling in 16 of 33 categories.


May 2016 Jobs By Category


So despite a bullish forecast last month that articulated our conviction that we are most definitely in a full employment environment, circumstances that will inevitably trigger a June rate hike, we are a bit more measured these days. Despite what we expect to be a better-than-estimate jobs number on Friday of 200,000 jobs gained in May, there is little doubt that the labor market is cooling off. Given the phenomenal job growth over the past 5 years and the incredible recovery from the depths of the Great recession, this cooling off shouldn’t be too surprising.


The Great Recession and The Great Recovery


So despite being a bit more measured than we were a month ago, we’ll maintain our position that due to overwhelming evidence for a full employment environment, combined with a strong report Friday that should include solid job growth and continued wage gains, the Fed will raise rates in June.


June 1, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Summer hours: Awesome perk or needless stressor?

Summer here in Minnesota means spending time by the water. In the land of 10,000 lakes (the number is actually higher), there’s no shortage of shoreline perfect for sunbathing, fishing or building sand castles. We embrace the long days of summer and can’t wait to enjoy the outdoors when Friday afternoon rolls around.

This summer state of mind extends across the United States where employers are increasingly offering summer hours so employees have extra time to enjoy the season to the fullest. Summer hours can take many forms — half-days on Fridays, early release on some days with time made up on others, flexible start and end times, etc.

The benefits of summer hours are easily apparent. Extra time off increases employee morale and loyalty. Because they have time to unplug and refresh, they return to work with renewed enthusiasm and are ready to bring their “A” game. Additionally, being able to spend more time with friends and family boosts work-life balance. Avoiding the rush-hour commute means less time in gridlock and less money spent at the pump. Plus, summer hours serve as a great recruiting tool for HR departments.

Summer hours, however, are not all sunshine and sundaes. For some employees, they can be a big stressor. For example, clocking in for an extended workday to make up time for an early release can mean a 10-hour day. On the early-release day, some employees may get stuck finishing work and backing up employees who have already left. This can create stress among certain staff members during summer months.

For other employees, it’s hard to stay focused during short workdays. Knowing they’re getting off early will motivate some to work harder to complete all tasks while others will already be in vacation mode. Productivity can vary dramatically between team members, possibly causing engagement to plummet.

A successful summer-hours program varies from organization to organization. To ensure your company enjoys the benefits while minimizing the drawbacks, follow these few simple guidelines.

Hours: Some industries require certain hours to be staffed. This may eliminate the possibility of summer hours completely, but perhaps you can figure out a rotating schedule to ensure teams are properly covered during all required periods.

Dates: Determine start and end dates for the program — many companies select Memorial Day to Labor Day. Remember that those first weeks in September can be difficult for employees transitioning back to a traditional schedule.

Alternatives: Consider alternatives like flextime that allow employees to start and end their day around peak productivity periods. Additionally, telecommuting can be a wonderful way for employees to work a full day while skipping the dreaded commute.

Ask: Not sure if employees will enjoy or feel stressed about summer hours? Ask them directly via a survey. At the conclusion of the program, follow up so you can determine if the program was a success or if it should be updated next year.

Setting clear expectations when implementing summer hours will help ensure that employees use the program successfully. When it becomes part of the culture, businesses will enjoy the momentum that comes from a happier, more relaxed staff.