Our parent company, GIE Media, has a summer hours policy. If you’re in position to meet deadlines and obligations, you receive flexibility to work a few less hours on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The policy operates via the honors system. It’s thoughtful – and it works. Everything gets done; everybody gets more time to enjoy their summer passions.
Have you considered a similar policy at your course?
With quality labor tough to retain and temperatures rising, your best defense to preventing employee and personal burnout might lie within your work structure. This requires a shift in thinking. Golf course maintenance isn’t designed for remote or hybrid work. That doesn’t mean flexibility can’t be integrated into the workplace.
Maybe Fridays are too busy for reduced hours because of weekend play and crew sizes. Maybe Mondays are meant for heavy-duty maintenance. But what about Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays? Can you spare a few hours one day per summer week for your team’s well-being? And we’re not talking unpaid hours: 37 hours of work for 40 hours of pay, or something equivalent, can sharpen bodies and minds. It also might be a tool in boosting employee loyalty.
Work motivations vary and becoming elite in golf course maintenance – or any other field – requires long weeks. What doesn’t vary is the taxing nature of working outdoors in the summer. July and August test bodies and minds. Fortunately, we have more knowledge about the body and mind than at any point in history. Some of that knowledge is shared in this month’s cover package, which includes physical and mental health stories produced by senior contributing writer Lee Carr, editorial assistant Cassidy Gladieux and Indiana superintendent Chad Allen.
Lee, Cassidy and Chad have a passion for telling stories to help others. Crafting stories that help and inspire people are the most important thing we do at Golf Course Industry. Sadly, golf course maintenance professionals often focus so much on keeping turf healthy that they neglect life basics such as staying hydrated, eating well, exercising and seeking the help of others when problems arise. We have thoroughly covered physical and mental health since devoting nearly our entire 2018 Turfheads Take Over issue to the topics. Expect more stories, podcasts, surveys and social media posts on enhancing the body and mind. The conversation is too vital to avoid. The stories in this issue are reminders to take care of yourself this summer and beyond.
Also, if you’re a director, superintendent or assistant superintendent, it’s not only about you. Your decisions impact others. Pushing too hard in severe conditions can negatively affect the physical and mental health of your crew. It might take humility – many of us grew up in eras where you were paid for what you worked – and negotiating with the bosses to reduce employee hours while keeping weekly pay the same.
There’s no universal approach in preventing summer burnout and exceptions exist. Seven percent of U.S. golf facilities incorporate union labor, according to our 2022 “Numbers to Know” survey. Seasonal changes are tougher to execute under rigid contracts. In some regions, summer is not the most demanding season. Reducing the throttle in fall, winter or spring might physically and mentally help employees in year-round golf markets.
Seasonal grind is unavoidable in this industry. But the physical and mental angst it causes can be mitigated. By properly implementing your version of summer hours, you might notice a more energized and engaged team, especially on days when the course must be playing and looking its best.
Our team doesn’t abuse summer hours. Quality hasn’t suffered. We still innovate. Deadlines are met. Core employees stick around GIE Media longer compared to other publishing companies. Yes, even the media and publishing industries face labor challenges! Retention remains a pillar of our corporate success.
Once Labor Day passes, normal hours resume. Flexibility requires compromise.