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August 14, 2001
Some Employers Ease Up in Summer
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Mindex, an information-technology company in Rochester, N.Y., management lets the 60 or so employees flee their cubicles for an afternoon of golf or other time outdoors, if it means they will work harder later.

"On a Friday afternoon in the summer, it's pretty unbearable to be inside," said Andrea Fiore, Mindex's financial analyst.

Companies everywhere are grappling with the lazy days of summer, a time when worker productivity generally slows, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Planning the family getaway can become as important as writing a financial report; painting the house can seem more pressing than a business meeting.

"It is a more relaxed time of year," acknowledged Candace Walters, president of HR Works, a human resource management company that serves about 600 companies in western New York.

So some companies are making allowances by letting employees take time here and there; in some cases, they're even making it a policy to let workers leave early on Fridays. But they're also expecting more in return.

"We're dealing with that issue now," said Dawn Tobin, one of the owners of the western New York software company Tobin & Associates. Her company, which employs 125 but recently cut about five people, is looking to pump up revenue, she said.

Tobin & Associates is requesting that employees not take vacations longer than a week. Work is being redistributed, and a new employee-referral program will reward employees with bonuses for bringing in new business. The employee who reels in the most will win a trip to Toronto at the end of the year.

Ajilon Services, a software company, gives its 130 employees a point for each new business lead, said Tim Willman, district manager. The employee who earns the most points selects a reward. This summer, prizes include handheld organizers, free stays at bed and breakfasts and time off.

"I'm guessing that the time off is going to go one or two" in order of preference, Willman told the Democrat and Chronicle. "People love time off."

Though using time off as an incentive may seem costly, Willman called it "money well spent."

Indeed, many companies satisfy employees' longings to sneak out early on Fridays by making it standard practice. Businesses from ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Rowland to Bergmann Associates let employees work longer hours in the first half of the week so they can leave early on Friday.

"You might, on the surface, think that you're giving up productivity," said Bill VanBuskirk, human resources director for Bergmann Associates. "But they're working at least as hard as they did."

To view the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article, visit the USA Today site.
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