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Avoid burnout during your busy season

July 13, 2000
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Thank you, Richard Meeh. I say that now. However, expect more praise from The News employees after August 12 — that is, if no one:

  • Gets hurt playing volleyball (watch out for those spikes from the long arms of you-know-who);

  • Gets injured trying to master rollerblading (not for me, folks); or

  • Suffers from a nasty sunburn while enjoying the relaxing lake water on the park beach.

Yes, The News is going to have its first-annual summer bash next month. News employees will gather together at a nearby metro park for many reasons, but mainly just to have f-u-n. And one must give credit to the president of Mako Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. (Denville, NJ) for planting the seed late last year via his entry into The News’ first-ever “Best Contractor to Work For” contest.

His answer to the question, “What do you do to avoid tech burnout during your company’s busy seasons,” was so simple, it turned on the lightbulb in this editor’s cranium.

“We will give the tech ‘light’ days,” wrote Meeh. “We also allow vacation to be taken in the summer. Yes, that’s right, during the busy time in the summer. We also allow techs to have flexible hours for personal or family matters.”

Then came his final sentence: “Our company picnic is also during the summer and provides a nice break from the mad rush.”

Per Nike, just do it

It is not necessarily easy arranging a summer company picnic. Trust me on this. Due to the different personal schedules, it is difficult just to establish one day in June, July, or August to have the event.

The point here is just to offer one, even if only a handful of employees attend. You want to show your employees that you care for them by offering them this one day of fun under the sun.

Of course, there are other steps a contractor can take to avoid burnout, and those who submitted entries last year certainly provided quality suggestions. Here are just a few:

“When a tech is giving signs of burnout or lack of interest (which takes a manager that is paying attention to notice), it’s time to act quick, bring him in, and talk to him about his workload. Let him know that he is important to you and to the success of the company. Make sure this employee has the necessary time off to enjoy a fulfilling personal life, too. If you don’t give your employees the necessary time to have a fulfilling personal life, you will lose them and it will be your fault.”

— Mike Bletzacker, general service manager, Engineered Services, Inc. (Chantilly, VA)

“Allow vacations during peak seasons. Manage each technician’s hours to ensure a more even workload for all. Limit overtime hours during peak seasons.”

— Charles G. Hard, Fox Service Co. (Austin, TX)

“We rotate Saturday work and make an effort to accommodate everyone. We ask them first, ‘Do you have any plans?’ for a given Saturday, and ‘Do you want the overtime?’ Some relish working overtime due to financial needs while others, especially those with families, would rather spend their Saturdays at home.”

— Larry W. Storm, president, Thermal Air Balance, Inc. (Goose Creek, SC)

“Turn away work when necessary (which was approximately $250,000 in 1999).”

— Brian Galvin, Excell Refrigeration (Lantana, FL)

“Service technicians rotate on-call status (one week) every six to eight weeks, and are allowed a 1/2 day off, the day they come off call. Service technicians are paid an additional $2 per hour while on call. We strive to equalize workloads and rotate technicians to prevent having to work overtime two weeks in succession.”

— Roy Parker III, Parker’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. (Americus, GA)

“We provide each installer and technician a Coleman cooler to keep refreshments cold throughout the day. We have a large ice machine in our shop, so technicians and installers do not have to buy ice each day for their coolers. The company provides bottled water and Gatorade during the heat waves, to make sure the technicians and installers keep themselves properly hydrated.”

— John McCarthy Jr., McCarthy Hotentot Siebler (Omaha, NE)

There are more

As I said, these are just a few suggestions. In the weeks ahead, expect more ideas from your fellow contractors to be passed along in this weekly space.

Take some of these suggestions to heart. Try them out. Chances are, many of your employees will appreciate your concerns and efforts.

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