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Mississippi employers prepare for the most festive time of the year

Too busy for the holiday blues?

With a busy holiday season looming before us, employees often seem to be in the twilight zone. Where, employers often wonder, would employees rather be? And how can employees be motivated during such a festive, yet productivity challenging, holiday season?

Deer-hunting season contributes to a slow down in the construction industry, said Perry Nations, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Mississippi.

“We don’t see the holiday blues around construction sites as often as we see the deer-hunting blues,” Nations said. “The wanderlust for deer hunting causes more of a problem during the holidays than travel does. The construction season slows down around that time of year anyway, but our members need skilled workers to get work finished before the winter weather gets too bad.”

Jeff Snyder, mall manager of The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, said employees in the shopping center business are “too busy to be blue.”

“With many retailers doing the majority of their business during the holiday season, it is exciting and challenging,” Snyder said. “Retail in north Mississippi this year has been strong and the holiday season should be the best ever for the Mall at Barnes Crossing. We feel the result will be less blue and more green.”

The malady of holiday blues is something folks in the restaurant business simply do not have the time to develop, said Jeff Good, co-owner of Bravo! and Broad Street Bakery, both in Jackson. When contacted in early November, Good and his staff were preparing turkeys and pork tenderloins to sell in time for Thanksgiving.

“The holiday season is so busy, and all staff members are so fully engaged, that no space is left in the margins for the blues,” Good said. “Now, mild psychosis is another question! I think that any industry where up to 20% of your annual business can come within 40 days can certainly lead to a little craziness.”

Dianne Dyar, executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, said the holiday season is when productivity is at its peak.

“From now until the end of the year, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce is at its busiest,” said Dyar. “We’re trying to close our year out and gear up for a new one. We’re working on our annual reports, newsletters, Business After Hours, members’ open houses and our annual meeting in January. We also have many new events, such as Biscuits & Business, that will start in January, and Men Who Cook, a fund-raising event to support the Madison County Excellence for Education Foundation scheduled for the first part of the year, that we are making preparations for. Sometimes it gets a bit hectic, but we make a point of keeping the atmosphere festive.”

Harold Ingram, president of Performax, said most of the holiday blues experienced in the medical community are stress related.

“Toward the end of the month, activity will usually decrease as patients stay away from clinics unless they absolutely have to visit a physician’s office,” Ingram said. “If income is an issue, physicians will generally increase pressure on staff to try to increase patient activity. The medical environment is stressful enough for employees without the additional burden of holiday activities.”

Ingram is often contacted by clients on how to relieve holiday-related work stress, he said.

“It is generally agreed among my staff who work in a number of medical offices that the following will help relieve the blues: change the environment by decorating and creating a festive atmosphere, allow holiday music to be played, try to arrange schedules to allow employees the opportunity to leave early occasionally to attend to the additional chores associated with the holidays, and consider giving bonuses for employees. Bonuses are always nice,” Ingram said.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.

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