For many businesses, the holiday season is also the revenue season. Retail, packaging and shipping, food and beverage providers — the holidays are when they make their money. Spending — especially consumer spending — spikes.
Yet your employees’ desire for time off also spikes. So how do you manage schedules to allow your employees to enjoy the holidays while still meeting the expectations of your customers? That’s a challenge countless businesses face at the end of every year. Here are eight ways to meet that challenge:
Proactively forecast your needs
Sounds obvious, right? But many small businesses react rather than plan. Forecast demand. Forecast sales. Forecast operational needs. Determine your worst case scenario, then apply a few sensitivities. It’s impossible to make smart staffing decisions without a sense of what your staffing needs will be — and without having contingency plans for unexpected demand or unforeseen issues that must be addressed.
Forecast customer needs
This is especially important for B2B businesses and companies that service a relatively small number of customers. Some of your customers may see a dip in demand. Others may be planning to give employees significant time off (many businesses shut down for a week or so). Determine what your customers may need from you. That will give you a sense of what staffing levels you need to maintain.
Consider company-wide shutdown days
If possible, consider allowing every employee to be off for one or two days more than the scheduled holidays. Granted, for some businesses that might not be feasible. If you can, it’s a great way to spread the time-off and avoid the inefficiency that often results from short staffing. Just make sure you let your customers know ahead of time that your business will be dark for a few days. Give them time to place orders early if need be. Most of them will not, but all of them will appreciate the gesture.
Communicate the plan to employees ahead of time
Employees should know what to expect. The fewer surprises, the better. You can explain the reasoning behind the plan beforehand, rather than in response to a request for time off that you cannot grant.
Make sure your employees understand how important the holidays are to your business.
Explain how volume spikes. Explain the importance of that revenue. Explain the importance of maintaining customer relationships, especially at a time when many of your customers are struggling to meet the needs of their customers. The better your plan, the more likely you are to reap the benefits of the holiday season while allowing your employees to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. And that’s definitely a goal worth shooting for.
Decide how you will handle requests for time off
Some of your employees will have already scheduled vacation time. Others will ask for time off at the last minute. Determine how you will make those decisions. Seniority? First come, first served? Allowing five employees to take one day off instead of letting one employee take a full week? Create a plan and stick to the plan. That way your employees may not like the decisions you make but they will at least understand that the decision wasn’t personal or ad hoc.
By Damilola Faustino
Read also: How To Win Your Customers’ Trust
Comments are visible after approval