If you live and operate a business in the midwest, you know that it has been extremely HOT for many weeks. In addition, we are approaching extreme drought conditions. Does the heat have an impact upon your employees and how much they produce and how they react in the work environment? The answer is ABSOLUTELY! Most people have a very low tolerance level when working in high temperatures. Add the sun and lack of moisture into the equation and tempers may start to flare. So, try and keep your emotions in check and realize that things may be said “in the heat of the moment.” Agreeing to talk about situations the following day when you have literally COOLED OFF, may be in order.
While most of us work in an air conditioned environment and drive our air conditioned cars, many people work outside in the hot temperatures every day. Examples: They may work in warehouses loading vehicles that are not air conditioned, drive vehicles that are air conditioned, but then have to unload those vehicles in the extreme heat. They may have jobs that require them to be outside in the extreme temperatures and sun every day, e.g. construction workers, painters, landscape and maintenance workers, roofers, day camp workers, etc. While most of you are saying, “they chose those work environments,” please keep in mind that may be true however, it may also be the only type of work that they are able to find in our current economy or it may truly be their passion. Also, please keep in mind that it is unusual for us to have so many high temperature days in a row. Whatever the situation, whether you are the employer or the customer, please be patient with these workers. Go the extra mile to make sure that they have water availeble and are able to take frequent breaks to rehydrate. Allow them to work in the shade and provide them with shade, if needed. Allow the workers extra time at lunch to leave the job site to be in an air conditioned evironment for a period of time. Be more lenient on company dress codes and explain to your customers that you are allowing them to wear fewer clothes due to the heat, if appropriate. (No, I am not suggesting that you allow your employees to wear swim attire unless they work around a pool, however, shorts and short sleeve shirts may be appropriate.) You may also want to provide company t-shirts and hats with your company logo on it so as to provide them with some relieft from the heat and to promote your company.
So whether you are the employer or the customer, please help our workers who work in the extremely high temperatures with some relief. Remember that the extreme heat does impact their levels of productivity and energy and their attitude. Show some tolerance for incidents and help them to COOL OFF appropriately. If you do, the results may be enormous!
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC