Business first on the Fourth of July

Wednesday holiday a manager’s nightmare

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Silver lining

Many other retailers - especially grocery stores - benefit throughout the holiday week. Some customers shop for their cookouts the weekend before the Fourth of July or in the evenings of the week leading up to the holiday, said Kathy Grannis, director of media relations for the National Retail Federation.

“It is one of the only times during the summer months, with maybe Memorial Day being the other one, when people have the opportunity to stock up on cookout food,” Ms. Grannis said. “There’s only one time of year retailers consider off-limits, and that’s Christmas Day.”

Ms. Grannis said Independence Day has little effect on the bottom lines for flower shops and toy stores because it is not considered a major gifting holiday.

Manufacturing companies are particularly hurt by the midweek holiday, Mr. Adams said. It’s not easy for a plant to shut down for one day and reopen at full capacity the next. Almost 16 percent of the group’s manufacturing members completely shut down their plants for the entire week and continued to pay their workers, Mr. Adams said.

But even one day of disruption is out of the question for health care providers and many other employers in the service industry.

Arc Aspicio’s employees often work through the holiday to meet their deadlines. However, Ms. Casey said she encourages her employees to work from home on the holiday and check in via email from wherever they are.

“We do whatever we can to protect that time for people,” she said.

Softening the blow

Karen L. Cates, lecturer of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said there are ways to maintain productivity even when many employees are mentally or physically checked out. She suggested making use of the employees who are still at the office, holding meetings while business is slow or testing new strategic plans.

She also said this is a good time to increase employee loyalty. For example, if an employee has been asking to work different hours or work from home, take this week to see if that is feasible.

“This is about giving people personal accountability, which a lot of theorists say is what people really want,” Ms. Cates said.

She said a week with fewer staff members can offer opportunities for fun. She recommended creating a contest to see which team, office or store location could clear out the most trash and get reorganized.

“Make a fun day to get cleaned up so that when things hit the fan you’re ready to go,” she said.

The most important thing for companies to remember when the Fourth of July falls on Wednesday is to keep communicating, Ms. Casey said. Employers must be sure to know where their employees are, and employees must remember to make sure someone is available to cover their duties if an emergency arises.

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