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Spinutech gives Friday half-days a second try

By Marc Reifenrath on May 18, 2009 in Company News

Published in the Sunday edition of the Waterloo Courier on 5/17/2009.
Written by Jim Offner- he is the Courier business editor.
Let's take some time out from the recession, the swine flu, Wall Street and the general economic malaise that seems to be gripping everybody.  This break comes courtesy of Spinutech Inc., which itself has opted to break from the calamity that has become the modern business world.

The Cedar Falls-based web site development company, located at 201 Washington St. in Cedar Falls, has "chosen not to participate" in the economic downturn.  In a day when many employees are afraid for their jobs on a daily basis, Spinutech is working to boost its employee morale.  For other businesses hoping to spark some life in their employees, it might be worth a look.

This summer, Spinutech, for the second straight year, is giving all of its 15 Cedar Falls and two Des Moines employees half a day off each Friday.  No strings attached. The half-day is the worker's, to use as they wish.  The program worked so well last year that managing partners Marc Reifenrath, Adam Lewis and Cory Schmidt jumped right into it again this summer, with no hesitation.  The first half-day off was Friday.

"Last year, we kind of focused on some stuff to do as many quality-of-life benefits as we could," Reifenrath said.  "One of the things was half-day Fridays- for a full day's pay - for the summer."

Over a nine-week period, that's basically 4 ½ days' extra paid vacation per employee. "The first thought is that you're giving away that time," Reifenrath said.  But, he added, Spinutech looks at it more as an investment in its work force.

"Our thought was people can be just as productive in 36 hours as they can in 40, especially with a nice incentive like that, " he said.

"We are extremely busy and will continue to be throughout the summer, but this is a huge morale boost, and we know it is a great thing for everyone."

Not a bad contrast to the usual stories of employees asked to give more and more back to their employers while worrying full-time about keeping their jobs.  Fear, it is said not without some justification, is a great motivator.  But so is a show of faith.  And, especially today, it probably wouldn't hurt employers to take a good, hard look at what Spinutech is doing to build bridges with their employees.

"We didn't notice any difference in productivity, "Reifenrath said. "And the side effects, through morale, are noticeable."

Too often, the term "team" is thrown around by employers. Programs like this give the word some real meaning. Oh, and incidentally, the half-day program doesn't apply to everybody at Spinutech. The owners still work full Fridays.

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