GNcareers, from Gulf News

93% of UAE firms feel negative impact of summer slowdown

93% of UAE firms feel negative impact of summer slowdownImage Credit: Supplied

About nine in ten UAE companies are finding it a challenge to keep business and employee productivity up during the summer months, a new research found.

In a survey commissioned by Robert Half, a specialized recruitment consultancy, 93 per cent of senior finance executives in UAE organisations said this time of year has a negative impact on their businesses.

Among the finance leaders polled for the study, about three in ten (35 per cent) said that business transactions tend to slow down during summer, while another 13 per cent said their workers are not too motivated to work.

Companies feel the largest impact due to the fact that many people take their annual holidays around this time of year, while there is ''less managerial direction'' for team members because their supervisors are away, and productivity is often down during the summer months.

''The summer months often result in slowdown of commercial activity for many UAE businesses,'' said Gareth El Mettouri, UAE associate director of Robert Half.

Given the slowdown, El Mettouri said, companies would do well to encourage their staff to take their annual vacation during the months of June, July, August or September.

''This is a good opportunity for employers to encourage employees to take their annual leave. By preparing for the slowdown of activity and employees taking annual leave, businesses can optimize use of resources and focus on completing unfinished projects,'' he said.

''Encouraging your employees to take advantage of the summer months to relax and recharge will see them return to work with higher morale and increased productivity.''

Raed Dibs, general manager of Dubai-based furniture company Interiors, said the idea could be beneficial for certain types of companies, but may not work for others. Organisations whose services are in demand during the summer months, such as those who provide air-conditioning services, might find it difficult to operate with a skeletal workforce.

But those who can get by with limited staff should go ahead and encourage their employees to go on vacation during summer. ''[The idea] is beneficial for many companies who have the so-called 'low season' during summer. It is not only better financially, it also helps some staff to [spend time] with their families instead of being bored in their workplace,'' said Dibs.

Dibs said the idea will not only help companies cut down on operational costs, it will help employees get some much-needed rest, thus they are likely to return to work feeling more motivated and enthusiastic to perform better.

''They will return to work with enthusiasm and energy,'' said Dibs.

Habib Khan, who manages a team of employees at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, said they have already put the idea into practice. Every summer, especially during the Ramadan period when operational hours are cut short, many of their hotel staff go on leave.

''We have been practicing this for the last several years, especially the food and beverage staff who go on leave during Ramadan due to limited operational hours. Similarly, our admin staff go on leave during summer due to less work,'' said Khan.

''If other [companies] will use the same method, then it can help them cut the cost during the lean period.''

Abdulla Al Shammar, managing director at Central Hotels, said that with hotels experiencing low occupancy during summer, it is indeed an opportune time for employees to take their annual vacation.

''We encourage our employees to take their annual vacation during this time. It allows them to focus on spending quality time with their family and loved ones, without being bothered about the load of work they left behind. Focused on creating a healthy work environment; the staff that take this opportunity, show increased productivity and come back prepared for the busy period.''

Robert Half offers five recommendations developed for companies to ensure their employees can leave on holidays stress free:

Have a team plan – As a team, asses what projects need to be completed over the summer months, and where possible, each employee can understand what responsibilities they have and can schedule their work and holiday in advance.

Be prepared – It is important for colleagues to understand expectations and deadlines, so that all tasks are completed. Good preparation and clear agreements in what needs to be managed will mean that teams feel supported and have the ability to carry out their work with direction.

Allow flexibility – Employees who have the ability to work flexibly leading up to their holiday will be more inclined to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently.

Encourage annual leave – Everyone is entitled to a minimum number of holidays and it is important to encourage the use of them. Employees who take their holidays are generally more satisfied and productive throughout the year.

Appoint a leader while you are away – With managerial direction being one of the biggest impacts on lost productivity, it is important that your team know who they can go to for advice. This is also a good opportunity to offer one of your employees a chance to develop their leadership skills, and ability to handle certain tasks without direction.

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Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter,