My boss encourages me to spend time away from the golf course to enjoy life.
For some of you, this might sound like unfamiliar territory. I know superintendents and assistants who believe if you’re not working 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., you don’t care about the golf course and you don’t have what it takes to succeed. I know this assumption could not be further from the truth.
This article is not about the downside that working tons of overtime on a golf course – and probably most occupations – has on people and families. I am not attempting to underestimate the importance of overtime. I fully understand there is a time and place for everything. As an intern, I wanted as many on-the-job training hours as I could possibly survive. I once clocked 90 hours in one week getting ready for a PGA tournament. Today, I don’t care to spend more than 50 hours a week on the job. My energy and enthusiasm for what I do suffers when I work too much overtime. The objective of this article is to point out methods and policies to help me and my crew sustain energy and enthusiasm in the workplace.
Here are a few ideas that might work at your facilities:
In my current position, everybody works and gets paid for 40 hours a week. If a trustworthy and experienced person must hand water hot spots after typical working hours, that person has the opportunity to come in later than the rest of the crew. For excellent tips on scheduling, check out “The Science of Scheduling” by Bruce Williams in the May 2011 edition of Golf Course Industry.
Also, long-tenured and trusted employees earn the opportunity to manage a weekend shift. I worked on a golf course professionally for 20 years and always had to work one day every weekend or work both days every other weekend. Currently, I rotate weekend manager positions with three other colleagues. Each of us works a weekend then takes the next three in a row off. This has been surprisingly successful for many years at my current club and other clubs in our area are adopting this new trend.
In addition to that, staff members receive a full day’s holiday wage on Easter, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, but they go home after first assignments. Sometimes, we send the crew home early with a full day’s pay on rainy days when the course is too wet to do anything outside. Our crew also gets a one-hour lunch break. They appreciate the extra time to play dominoes or rest in air conditioning before heading back out.
Does all this make every employee jump out of bed to get to work? No — that’s just me, I think! — but it can increase productivity and morale, and improve service and workmanship while reducing overtime, mistakes, recruitment costs, and interview and training time.
It works for me too. I’ve managed to sustain energy and enthusiasm at work. My free time begins when the crew leaves for the day. That’s when I reflect on the day in the office or take another trip around the property appreciating what we do. Some of my best ideas come in my free time after the crew has gone home. I do a lot of reading or work on something related to my career (such as writing this article) in my free time before I go home as well. I don’t have to do these things for my job; I choose to do them because I have the time, energy and enthusiasm to do them.
Wherever you are, I hope your and your staff’s personal time and happiness are important to those you serve. Fully rested, we are in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We don’t tire so easily because we aren’t burning up foolish energy trying to get everything done in one day.
Some of this can be a paradigm shift. If resistance to this idea occurs, challenge them to think outside the box, look at the bigger picture and see if it will work at your facility. The first goal is to maintain the same level of playing conditions while creating a work environment conducive to maximizing employee efficiency and enjoyment in their work. It may be best to start small, evaluate the new system and if nothing changes go back to the old way.
The size of my paycheck or the nice feeling of being the boss at the best club in town are not enough to keep me enjoying those awesome sunrises every morning. Having ample time to myself to do what I want does.