UK employers lure Gen Z workers with ‘early finish Fridays’ amid staff shortages

UK employers desperate to recruit and retain Gen Z workers are increasingly offering “early finish Fridays in a bid to fill vacant roles amid an ongoing staff shortage crisis.

Online jobs portal Adzuna has seen a sharp increase in postings offering shorter days on Friday, effectively meaning workers can start their weekends a few hours earlier. There were 1,426 job ads on the site citing “early finish Friday this March, compared to only 583 in the same month five years earlier — before the COVID-19 pandemic upended working life.

The perk appears to be targeted at junior staff, in roles with salaries between £20,000 and £40,000 ($50,000), according to Adzuna data provided to Bloomberg.

It’s more prominent in certain industries, with Adzuna’s live ads showing 348 early finish Friday jobs in engineering as of April 3. There were 207 similar perks offered for sales jobs, 156 in information technology roles and 90 for graduate positions.
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said the shift reflects the fact that employees are “demanding more from employers after the pandemic.

“For jobseekers, a company offering early-finish Fridays signals that they are flexible in their attitude to working hours and care about their employees’ wellbeing — two factors of utmost importance in today’s jobs market, Hunter said in an emailed statement.

Employers offering the perk include several mid- to large-scale companies. Fashion supplier DCK Group includes an early start to the weekend in its list of benefits for a merchandising graduate position. Aerospace firm Raytheon Technologies Corp is offering the perk in a job ad for a contracts manager.

Companies have been trialing a variety of measures, including a four-day work week, to attract staff in the face of record vacancies.

Emma, a 21-year-old staffer at a music publishing firm in London, whose employer is planning to relax its working hours on Friday during July and August, said she is excited about the idea of finishing early and taking advantage of the better weather.

A formal — if temporary — reduction in working hours also means staff can take an extra day off work when booking holidays and it will only count for half a day, said Emma, who didn’t want to use her full name when discussing her employer.

However, attempts to tinker with terms and conditions have not yet eased the UK’s labor shortage problem. There are 216,000 fewer working age people in the workforce than before the pandemic, making Britain the only Group of Seven economy not to have recovered to pre-Covid levels.

In his Budget speech last month, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt removed the lifetime allowance on UK pension savings in an effort to attract older workers back into the job market, a move that will benefit some of the country’s wealthiest savers.

Some remain skeptical of the value of using benefits to attract younger staff.

“At some point, you’ll be doing things you don’t like, Lewis Kemp of Manchester-based Lightbulb Media wrote on LinkedIn recently. “Being trusted, respected & paid appropriately is worth much more than pizzas, holidays and ‘early finish Fridays.’

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