Summer Productivity Sappers Include Holiday, Heat Wave


While difficult to measure the economic impact in dollars and cents, the mid-week Independence Day holiday will most definitely have an impact on workplace productivity, according to workplace authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  “The economy at large probably will see any discernible effect from the mid-week holiday.  It will be felt more at the company or even department level, as workers take off the two days before, the two days after, or both,” he noted.  How workers decide to make the most of the mid-week holiday will depend on the nature of their occupation and the generosity of their employers.  Many employers experience a slowdown in business during the summer months, which might make them more inclined to grant the extra days.  Even those who plan to work on the days straddling the holiday may find their workloads a little lighter, as key decision makers, associates and customers are absent.  What can employers do to make sure the mid-week holiday does not have an impact on the bottom line?  Are workers still reluctant to take long vacations due to concerns over job security?  Why is it important for employers to make sure workers take advantage of vacation time?



While the mid-week holiday may have a temporary impact on workplace productivity this week, the biggest contributor to declining output across the nation this summer could be the heat.  The eastern United Statesis currently baking under temperatures in excess of 100°F, in the wake of severe storms that have left millions without power.  The Midwesthas been experiencing record heat with more high temperatures expected this week.  Across the nation, nearly 2,500 high-temperature records were broken in the month of June.  With most of July and all of August still ahead, most experts are forecasting more heat waves to come.  Heat definitely has an impact on workplace productivity, not only for the millions of workers whose occupations require them to be outside most of the time, but for office dwellers as well.  “People just move slower in the heat,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  “Add to that the impact of power outages and workers staying home to deal with heat-related issues, such as broken air conditioning units, and it becomes a significant drain on productivity.”  A 2003 study by researchers at the Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that once temperatures rise above 77°F, productivity decreases by 2.0 percent per degree.  So, when the temperature reaches 97°F this week in Chicago, employers can expect a 40 percent drop in productivity.  What can employers and employees do to keep productivity up during heat waves?  Should employers relax dress codes when temperatures soar?  Is increased telecommuting one solution to battling the impact of heat waves?



One thought on “Summer Productivity Sappers Include Holiday, Heat Wave

  1. Great blog post! I work with a lot of job seekers and they have shared with me that they would work Holidays if they had the flexibility of working from home and doing the kind of work they love. Employees I coach are taking there vacation days because they feel like their over worked, under paid and if they don’t take it they will get burned out fast. Yes, telecommuting would increase productivity and relax dress would help with keeping cool.

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