We are now at the peak of the busy season but soon the year will start winding down along with production levels of doors and windows. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important for business owners and managers to show appreciation to the production workers that helped us make it through the busy season.

As I traveled my territory the last few months, I witnessed production workers working long hours and even six days a week. This puts a tremendous strain on what is undoubtedly a company’s greatest asset—people.

When production requirements are at peak levels, it is also the time when machine failures occur as our cutters, washers, welders and corner cleaners are running extra hours in the hot and dusty conditions. When a machine goes down and workers are suddenly idled, this creates even more stress since everyone knows that when the machines finally get back into service they will be even further behind.

On the plant floor, conducting quality audits for the materials and components I sell, I often interact with production workers. When asked what motivates them to get through this hectic time of year, the answer I most often hear is something like, “I cannot wait until we get over the hump so that I can spend more time with my family.”

“We lost our best glass cutter last week,” exclaimed one manager. “He had been here for 14 years!”

“So why did he leave?” I asked.

“Well, when we told him he had to work Sunday, he just said, ‘You can but I will not. My family is too important. I will find a job that allows me to balance job and family time, even if it means earning less money!’”

Yes, the pressure of working 10-hour days, Saturdays and sometimes even Sundays can put an extreme amount of stress on people and their families. Therefore, it is extremely important to add motivators during these peak times to get our people through the week. Catering food for a luncheon, giving production workers an extra break, gift cards for Thanksgiving or even an extra paid day off during the holiday season are all great ways to show appreciation to your production crew for meeting production goals. These types of gestures can work wonders to help keep people motivated and feel appreciated. Doing such things breeds loyalty.

Stressful times also extend to executives, staff and managerial positions. After all, these are the people responsible for ordering the correct amounts of components, keeping the machines running, keeping quality levels high, maintaining low wastage levels, scheduling production to maximize efficiency, and shipping finished product on time. One sure way to keep staff and management employees motivated is allowing for flexibility.

According to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, “Flexibility is about an employee and an employer making changes to when, where and how a person will work to better meet individual and business needs. Flexibility enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes to the time (when), location, (where) and manner (how) in which an employee works. Flexibility should be mutually beneficial to both the employer and employee and result in superior outcomes.”

Letting your key employees adjust work hours, work location or methods while putting the real emphasis on results not only boosts morale among your staff but also results in employees who are willing to go the extra mile to achieve corporate goals. The reason is simple. Allowing flexibility makes employees feel valued by the organization.  In turn, these same employees identify with the success of the overall organization as opposed to going to work to simply collect a paycheck. A Study by J.P. Morgan Chase found that 95% of employees working in an environment where the manager is sensitive to work and personal, including informal flexibility, feel motivated to exceed expectations, compared to 80% of employees in environments where the manager is not sensitive to needs for informal flexibility.

So, as Thanksgiving day descends upon us, let’s ponder the best ways to motivate and give thanks to the backbone of the door and window industry – the people that made yet another profitable year a reality. Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

1 Comment

  1. Excellent article Jim. I couldn’t have said it better myself, lol.

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