I have spent the last few weekends looking at online deals for gift giving — who am I kidding, I start my holiday shopping in June. My first jobs were in retail, as was my first HR job. I remember working holidays many years in a row. As a teen, I didn’t mind … I made some extra money, often working double and sometimes triple shifts of people who didn’t want to work. However, as I got older, working on the holidays wasn’t quite the same and I would have gladly traded in the extra money to spend time with friends and family or to just sleep in or relax at home. I remember the craziness of the store on those holidays — last minute shoppers, frantic people convinced that I was hiding items in the ad in a backroom somewhere, shoppers who would take items out of someone else’s cart and then run to the register to them (oh yes, I saw that happen, at least two, if not, three times). No surprise that I was a very early adopter to online shopping and started my ritual of shopping months in advance. If I didn’t have to be in the busy stores during the holidays, I didn’t want to be.
As an HR person, and as a business professional, I know that the sales and revenue that we drive on those busy holidays is real important to those stores. People not in retail or service industries, are off work and they want to go shopping, watch a movie, and/or go out to eat. I also know, that there are some people who like working those holidays and getting the extra money. However, I also know what it takes out of people to work those long and difficult hours.
Its likely too late in the year to have the discussion now for this year, (if not, have it and if so, make a note for next year) but take a close look at the data and trends — and think about if it there is an impact of adjusting your store or business hours. Consider coverage for customers, stocking items, unloading trucks, etc. Run the trends from previous years and recent months and really understand if its worth it for your business to be open or if you should adjust the hours/resources. Think about what makes sense for YOUR business, employees, and customers.
If your store or business is going to be open there are some things that you can do as the HR pro to make the holidays less stressful for your employees.
First, SCHEDULE WITH CARE. It might take some time on this one, but will be so worth it and show your team that you’re creating a schedule with them (and your customers) in mind. Be sure to ensure that you have proper coverage on the floor and backroom (front of house and back of house) to take care of your customers, but also consider giving your people some breaks in the week so that they don’t have to work the holiday and days leading up to and after the holiday. Take care in schedule double shifts and watch scheduling a closing shift with an opening shift the next morning. Give people a chance to decompress and spend time enjoying the season as well. If you are able, give people their schedules for the holiday season in advance if at all possible so that they are able to plan events and functions around their work schedule — and work with others to trade shifts with others.
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And speaking of schedules, on those busy days, don’t underestimate the power of FOOD and a QUIET SPACE to decompress and get off their feet. It can be mentally and physically challenging for your folks during busy times, so consider giving them extra breaks to grab a goody and take a moment to themselves. Keep a selection of healthy snacks and/or meals on hand for them to quickly grab and recharge — they probably have enough of the not great ones due to the season. You’ll want to keep up their energy and keep ‘em hydrated.
Finally, be on the floor and be in the action with your teams. The holiday time is the time to work side by side with your teams — helping customers and ensuring that things are running smoothly. If you have managerial responsibilities, also be sure that you’re giving your team members the support that they need when customer escalations come up — do what’s right for your customers, but also back your people up.
What are some of your tips for surviving the holidays in retail or hospitality industries, particularly, on the holidays?