Here for us in Jamaica, summer means many things – the obvious heat, less traffic (school’s out!), mangoes, to name a few. As business people, there are other problems – vacation requests, increased absenteeism, seasonal changes in sales and our unique ‘EmanciPendence,’ situation. So, drop the temperature on the a/c units, this is a hot topic!
Seasonal Business Changes require planning
Depending on your business, you may have a slump or boom in the summer months. And, since kids are out of school, employees may also be requesting time-off. If you have a slump, it’ll work to your favour to have employees out of office. Wherever possible, you should try and reduce your expenses in tandem with reduced revenue. Are there other streams of revenue that your business can develop to take you through leaner months?
On the flip side, if your business picks up, you’ll need to be certain that you have enough employee coverage. Are there seasonal staff that you can hire? The Portal maybe? (Shameless plug). If you produce a physical good, do you have access to inventory? Sometimes, suppliers take a summer break, as many companies in Europe do.
The important thing is to plan. That means in advance. I know, I know, this article is late…but please read on.
The Summer Doldrums
As you gaze wistfully out the window, wishing back to the days of youth…snap out of it! As a key-decision maker, you must stay focused. After you’ve planned for the ups and downs, but before summer hits, plan your own vacation. You deserve the time off. While you may not be able to take 2 weeks at once, plan a mini-escape or two, a staycation, or even ‘tief out.’ Even if you want to ignore the benefits to your own health, studies have shown that vacation time boosts productivity. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent.[i] And for you, power-player, that means a lot.
While we’re all about patriotism, and the aforementioned occasional break, this ‘twin’ holiday poses a unique set of challenges. August 1 (Emancipation Day), and August 6 (Independence Day) are 5 days apart. There’s never a good scenario for this in a business context, as most of the time, you’ll have 2 consecutive weeks with a public holiday.
As Mr. Lascelles Chin, manufacturing titan wrote in a Letter to the Editor, in The Jamaica Gleaner in 2014, in relation to machinery: “We do not just flick the ‘off’ switch at 4 o’clock one evening and turn the ‘on’ switch back on when the business reopens after the holiday. We start losing production before the regular close of shift time…That is lost production…” Let’s think about it in the context of employees; how do YOU feel before a pending vacation? Mentally, humans don’t switch ‘off’ and ‘on’ either, so anticipation for time-off builds up and productivity declines.
But you’re confused…I JUST spoke about the value of a break?? Before we needlessly start debating, Mr. Chin suggests (and I agree), restructuring to a 4-day weekend, and minimizing the ups-and-downs of 2, consecutive mid-week holidays. While we wait for that to happen, what do we do in the meantime? Anticipating human nature and structuring work-flow for those 2 weeks to be light is important. Also, realize that there may be higher than normal absenteeism. Finally, if you are they type of business that must stay open, remind your employees that they are getting Government-mandated holiday pay (if they qualify), and try to make the time they do have to be in office on a holiday fun. And if you, as a business-owner must be in office on a holiday? TREAT YO SELF. Take another day where you can, buy yourself a nice lunch to make up for it. You’re your own best employee, remember that!
Hopefully, this will be the best summer since that one in college that you swore with your best friend that you’d never discuss again, just in case there are arrest warrants still outstanding.
[i] 4 Scientific Reasons Vacations Are Good for Your Health, Lolly Daskal, Inc. Magazine