By Noreen Henry, Chief Revenue Officer at Sojern, HSMAI Foundation Board Member
The past two years have been tough for the travel industry. Lockdowns, travel bans, and other restrictions meant many travel companies were forced to do more with less. From an employee standpoint, it’s affected both workload and morale. Now, as the industry rebounds and travel returns, organizations must continue to work to avoid employee burnout and improve the employee experience and company culture.
In March 2020, in-person work ceased for many travel companies, which meant working remotely or simply not working at all. By April 2020, HR professionals were seeing a trend: 65% said that maintaining employee morale was a challenge — and that was across all industries. That same month, Sojern took action, introducing a program called “Flexi Fridays.” This program has been a successful part of our initiative to make sure our team has a healthy work-life balance.
Ever since we implemented this program, our work-life balance scores in Glint, an internal culture survey, have increased dramatically. Our internal productivity statistics have improved as well. Not only that, Sojern’s Net Promoter Score has increased in the four quarters since we’ve implemented the program, which means our shorter work week has not negatively impacted customer satisfaction.
Here’s how Sojern’s Flexi Friday policy works and why it’s important for our team and the travel industry.
What Is Flexi Friday?
Flexi Friday was designed to meet Sojern employee needs and gives team members additional flexibility on Fridays. Sojern teams are busy, and they are often accommodating offices located in multiple time zones. By the time Friday hits, many team members are trying to wrap up any loose ends so they can enjoy the weekend. Flexi Fridays allow them to end their workday at noon. What’s more, Sojern has a strict “no internal meeting” policy on Fridays. While an occasional meeting may be scheduled, this is only in the event of a true emergency. Otherwise, Fridays are a break from the typical flow of calls and meetings, which gives employees additional flexibility with their day.
Why It Matters
The travel industry is both busy and constantly changing, and employees must continually adapt. While meetings are important, employees need uninterrupted time to focus on tasks and be more productive. Statistics show that employees spend 35-50% of their time in meetings, depending on seniority. But 42% of remote workers say they are more productive when they can work for extended blocks of uninterrupted time. Catch-up time is important, and Sojern’s no-meeting policy allows for that, just in time for the weekend.
Beyond productivity, Flexi Fridays give Sojern employees something even more valuable: time. They can dive into the weekend early, have some breathing room to plan for the following week, spend time with family and friends, or even travel! Recently, one of our team members wrote about how Flexi Fridays allow her to pick up her son from school and enjoy the extra time with him.
Another team member shared this on a recent Glint survey: “Flexi-Fridays! I feel like having a day when I can wake up when I want and keep my head down in work (and not in meetings) helps me effectively get to a good stopping point for the week. Then, I do not feel internal pressure to log back on during the weekends.”
Now more than ever, it’s critical that the travel industry actively look for ways to improve the employee experience and company culture. By giving team members flexible, meeting-free Fridays, travel companies can boost morale as well as give employees time and space to plan, travel, and dream.