Kurt C. Peterson, Publisher

The temperatures are heating up but the sales aren’t. Do you decide to take a break from trying to recover from the last two years of dismal business or work harder? It might seem like an easy choice to make but most have to justify their reasons to a higher authority. Whether it’s the owner or team leader, or possibly a supplier or creditor, the decision you make now can have lasting implications.

One thing that resonates across the employment spectrum is the change in quality of applicants for various job types. It’s not uncommon to hear dealers say how hard it is to find someone willing to take on more mundane tasks, invest more of themselves in the job or just care about the product they turn out. Or, it’s a case of being burned by an employee who had such great potential…until a better offer came along. Younger employees believe they have a right to time off, higher wages and full benefits, just because they show up for work, and older ones believe they’ve earned their stripes after working for two or three decades. Where is the sense of loyalty and work ethic?

It evaporated over the past two generations or so. Instant gratification replaced willingness to earn one’s way. Companies concerned more about the bottom line than investing in (and keeping) good employees led the way, seeking more creative ways to lessen overhead costs. Like everything else, the trickle-down effect helped create an ambivalent workforce locked in combat with itself.

Prospective employees, now more numerous and skilled than for the past five decades, are finding it harder to present the face of loyalty when they feel like a casualty. But, they are more likely to work harder to prove themselves to wary employers because it’s not getting any better out there, in spite of Wall Street’s seeming recovery. Mom- and-pop shops can’t just close down for a vacation because the season has changed and expect the same attitude from their employees. Big outfits have more latitude but might not be able to swallow the loss of productivity while employees are on vacation.

Who can blame them? Tight markets don’t wait for people to return from their holiday. On the flip side, burnout isn’t any more productive. Good businesses take chances, on products as well as employees, in hope of keeping the competition at bay. Balancing the needs of the company with the needs of the workers may not seem like an important factor when everyone is trying to stay in business, but it may be the difference between a short break and a permanent unpaid vacation.

If you’re in need of a break, take it, with the understanding you will return and give the best you have to offer. Step up to the plate, as employer or employee, and realize that nothing ever got accomplished without teamwork somewhere along the way. Then get on with the business of making a profit and investing in the next five or 10 years. Oh, and stop to smell the roses before they’re gone.


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