Summer Siesta from Workplace Productivity

July 5th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Written by Jillian Friesen, GEI Associate

Econintersect: Many studies conducted over the years have shown lulls in worker productivity during the summer months. There have also been many published reports backing up these claims.  In a recent report issued,  Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. attempt to explain the slack in productivity during the summer months and mid-week holidays such as today.

Follow up:

It is not surprising to read reports such as these. Every summer, whether you are an employee or employer, you are quite readily able to see the slowdown firsthand for yourself. Employees work slower, take longer breaks and operate at a less than desirable pace. Many choose to take extra days off surrounding the holidays. Along with taking time off, employees tend to socialize more and tend to leave the office earier. The mad rush to get out of the office earlier on Friday afternoons tends to only add stress to employees when they see their Monday workloads.

Many companies have tried to resolve this issue by allowing flexible workplace scheduling. Not only did many of these options show no effect, some added increased stress levels in the workplace. The correlation between flexibility options and workplace stress levels can be seen below.

Source: Captivate Office Pulse Finds Summer Hours are Bad for Business

According to John A. Challenger, Chief Excutive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., many employees and key decision makers will take time off around the Fourth of July holiday. In addition, many customers will be busy spending their time relaxing and not circulating money throughout the economy.  When asked how this would effect his own company, Challenger stated,

"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."

Many are worried that this summer will have a particularly profound effect upon the nation's yield.  Heat waves are searing through the nation from the east to west coasts. At any temperatrure above 77 degrees, productiviy decreases by 2% for each degree rise in temperature. This is according to research assembled by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Not all news is negative however. According to PR Newswire, when speaking of a report recently issued by CareerBuilder on worker productivity,

"Looking at overall productivity trends year-round, 30 percent of employers say workers are more productive today than before the recession began; 12 percent feel workers are less productive than before the recession."

However many of the people interviewed in this study credited much of their increased productivity to a fear of losing their job in a down economy.

With lower productivity comes lower profits.  Many have no other option but to downsize in such times.  Unfortunately this translates into many workers being laid off and additional stress on those still employed.  Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America stated,

"The recession produced consequences for not just those who were laid off, but also for the many employees who were asked to work harder as a result of leaner staffs."


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