As architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms continue to tighten their belts, flex and vacation time are the next items on the chopping block, according to results of a recent survey conducted by ZweigWhite, Wayland, Mass. Only 12% of firms plan to offer summer hours this year, according to the latest By the Numbers survey, a monthly poll featured in The Zweig HR Letter. Summer hours are typically defined as allowing employees to put in extra hours Monday through Thursday and take either a half day off every Friday or a full day off every other Friday during the summer months. Additionally, just 7% say they will allow employees to take an unlimited amount of unearned vacation hours “on credit” to the firm.

“Offering summer hours this year would send the wrong message to current employees, laid-off employees, and clients,” says Michelle Maynard, a consultant with ZweigWhite, who specializes in human resources management. “Whether or not it’s the case, a summer-hours policy paints the image of relaxation — not the hustle and drive that firms need from their employees right now to position them for success when the economy rebounds. Also, client responsiveness and service are more important than ever right now. As more firms fight for fewer projects, it’s imperative that they make themselves available to clients as much as possible.”