The festive season is full of challenges and opportunities.
The season is full of potential for companies in various sectors - particularly retail, logistics and hospitality - but it can also prove difficult to navigate without encountering problems.
One difficulty that often arises is dealing with an increased workload at a time when many employees want to take time off. Here are a few strategies firms can use to cope with this challenge.
Plan ahead and anticipate problems
Like any potential threat to your business, the risk of a spike in workload coinciding with a shortage of staff is best addressed as early as possible.
You should be planning your Christmas operations months in advance, anticipating when the pressures on your resources will be greatest and coordinating your workforce accordingly.
Make sure everyone within the company is fully aware of what will be expected of them at this time, and try to foster an 'all in this together' ethos by encouraging collaboration and teamwork.
Ensure policies are clear and consistent
When it comes to approving holiday requests, it is crucial to have fair and transparent policies in place and to use the same methods in every instance.
It might be the case that young, single employees will be more willing to work at Christmas time than married people with families, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the latter group should be prioritised over the former.
Have line managers and team leaders talk to staff members to try to find solutions that suit as many people as possible. You might find that many workers are willing to tweak their plans or make allowances for the sake of others or the company as a whole.
Be open and communicative - with clients and staff
The benefits of being as honest and communicative as possible extend to all areas of business.
Inform clients of your plans for managing contracts and projects at this time of year, and take possible staff shortages and other seasonal factors - such as delivery bottlenecks - into account when taking on work.
It is also important to be open with staff if they are expected to deal with heavier workloads or changes in their responsibilities around Christmas.
Flexible working has become a very important and valuable concept for many companies and it can be particularly relevant at this time of year.
If it is possible for some staff members to do their job adequately from home, give them the option to do so on the days between Christmas and New Year's Eve. If it is essential for employees to be present at the workplace, small gestures - like letting people arrive later or leave earlier, relaxing dress codes and placing festive treats and gifts around the office - can go a long way.
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