Winter Wednesdays – Five Simple Ideas to Motivate Employees (and ourselves) during the Cold Months
Annually, it’s almost Wednesday. The “weekend” is so far in the past that we hardly remember it, and yet there is still a long way to go before December, the next “weekend,” becomes a reality.
On my morning show, we refer to the middle of the week as “Whiny Wednesdays.” Listeners are more irritable, quicker to complain and they invariably hate my music choice. Even if they liked the same song the day before.
They are just not happy.
The months of June and July in South Africa are much the same. The initial novelty of the change in season has worn off and we can no longer deny that it’s winter. Even if are aware, in theory, that we are blessed to have one of the world’s greatest climates, it still is not the same as the warm, long days of summer.
And we are just not happy.
It is not only on my radio show that I have observed this. As a consultant to a number of companies, I have also noticed how employers struggle to motivate staff over this period. People have a need to “cave” which means they tend to leave work as early as possible, to come in as late as possible and are not as keen to take on new and exciting challenges. It’s almost as though they would love to hibernate, but know that they can’t – and so they spend the months doing as little as possible.
There are a number of possible solutions to this:
- Embrace Winter: Instead of fighting winter, create an office environment that focusses on the things that we are attracted to in that season. For example, make sure there is copious amounts of hot chocolate in the tea-room, hand out marshmallows at 4pm when energies dip, and maybe provide warm instant soups to employees. This is not costly, but will make people feel cared for and nurtured. It recognises that everyone needs a little extra something to get through the period.
- Make sure the office or environment is set at the right temperature: Sounds obvious right? Wrong! One of the main areas of conflict in the work-place, centres around the temperature. Latest research indicates that its more complicated than we thought. It indicates that women are more productive at higher temperatures than men are. Men in turn, often prefer it cooler. Although they might like it this way, may prefer cooler air, the same research has indicated that men are less affected from a productivity perspective, meaning that it is better, overall, to have a warmer, than cooler environment.
- Create an annual winter event. We all need something to look forward to. Why not consider placing something on your annual calendar as a highlight to the year? Schedule this event towards the latter half of the season, so that by the time it happens, Spring is around the corner.
- Consider providing flu shots to employees. This assists in reducing “sick days” and once again indicates that the company cares.
- Company walks: Not everyone is an athlete, and although we all know that we should be exercising during the cold months, it is not always easy to do. Why not take advantage of some of the magnificent open areas and parks that we are blessed with? A weekend walk with families or even work day afternoon walk. The time out the office will be made up in other ways.
We know that winter passes. We know that by the time we are used to it being Wednesday, that is already Thursday. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy each day and each season, and embrace what it has to offer.
Now there’s a right belter!
Build customer bonds by seeing to their ‘belts’
As automotive tech progresses, so does its nomenclature. Today, what used to be called a ‘fan belt’ is also called a ‘serpentine belt’ or a ‘drive belt’ or ‘V-belt’. The other important belt in a car’s engine is of course the ‘cam belt’ or, as it’s called in the trade, the ‘timing belt’.
Names aside, making sure your customers’ engine belts are in top condition will not only improve their motoring experience but also prevent expensive engine failures, making you something of a hero, unsung or otherwise.
The V/fan/drive/serpentine belt in most late model cars today drives a combination of components, including the water pump, fan, aircon compressor, alternator and power steering. Obviously, there’s a whole lot resting on the integrity of that belt. And so too the cam/timing belt. Failure of that baby can destroy an engine, like that!
Service the fan belt like this:
- If it’s a ‘serpentine’ configuration belt, take a photo of it with your cell phone before removing it so you replace it correctly.
- Remove the belt for comprehensive inspection.
- Look for cracks, wear and layer separation. Replace the belt if any of these signs are evident.
- Inspect all component pulleys for signs of wear and dirt/oil/grease and clean thoroughly.
- A squealing fan belt can be remedied by simply tightening the tensioner arm.
- When a new fan belt is fitted, allow it to ‘run in’ or ‘seat’ properly, then retighten the tensioning arm.
Service a timing belt like this:
- Remove the belt for a full inspection.
- Look for any contaminants that may corrode the belt or cause it to slip. Once again, look for cracks, wear and layer separation in the belt.
- Inspect the underside of the belt and verify that all the teeth are in good condition.
- If you fit a new timing belt, always replace the timing belt tensioner pulley, the idler pulley and the guide pulley.
- Failure to replace all three pulleys can lead to early belt failure and costly engine damage.
Visit www.startmycar.co.za for OE-quality DOE belts and Beta tensioners and pulleys. The comprehensive DOE belt range includes: 3-rib (630mm long belt); 6-rib (3100mm); and 12-rib (2045mm), each with a PK number and the car manufacturer’s part number.
As always, market your expertise and educate your customers on the importance of ‘peak belt health’. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves!