6 Employee Scheduling Tips for the Holiday Season

November 26, 2019 | 201 views

6 Employee Scheduling Tips for the Holiday Season
6 Employee Scheduling Tips for the Holiday Season

It’s here already—the holiday hours dilemma. Some want more, some want less. Or worse, everyone wants hours or is clamoring for holiday time off. With a short shopping season, labor demands might be different than expected. Instead of four weekends after Thanksgiving’s long holiday, there are only three.

Fewer days means at least one limited asset—time. But it might also mean limited labor as employees squeeze in holiday parties and open houses. The puzzle of employee holiday scheduling demands some serious thought to keep everyone working at peak performance and to ensure a good season.

  1. Prep vacation days now. If you haven’t done it already, get the holiday requests sorted out. The long-term planners may have notified you long ago, but the last-minute requests need to be eliminated. Make sure all employee requests are in ASAP, and have a good plan in place for how to prioritize requests for days off.
  2. Use scheduling technology to simplify work shifts. Employee scheduling can drive anyone loony, especially if your organization has longer hours during the holidays. Simplify the job with easy scheduling software that eliminates unnoticed overtime and scheduling gaps. Everyone stays informed of changes easily, and last-minute surprises are readily managed. It tracks time and simplifies the end-of-month and end-of-year payroll needs, so you get a break too.
  3. Many hands make for light work. Hire now if you can. With unemployment at historic lows, the holiday help may be harder to find. Extra staff will cover unexpected absences when you can least afford to be short-handed. Use a professional agency if you must—they make the paperwork easier as you gear up for staffing anomalies during the holiday, especially if you’re a retail company with reasons to hire more holiday employees.
  4. Maximize floor coverage. Stagger breaks and lunchtimes to ensure maximum, high-quality coverage in your store. Designate a shift leader to watch the clock and keep the rotations going. Choose your best person available each day, so that if you are paying overtime, at least it’s to the best salesman you can find. And since it can get hectic, splurge a bit for some treats in the break room. It makes them feel valued, and that can only help when schedules and working hours might be strenuous.
  5. Consider best and highest use. Normally, we want employees to learn a full range of skills, but when holiday demands make things a bit more frenzied, use the best employees for each job. The fastest on the register keeps things moving. The best salesman on the floor keeps revenue up and buyers satisfied. The best stocker gets that job too. If you have new or temporary employees, train them with experienced staff to accelerate what they can contribute.
  6. Don’t forget to watch labor costs. Check labor costs against sales and profits every single day to adjust as needs be to maximize profits. Nearly every industry has that great event, conference or sales season come to naught because labor costs spiraled unchecked.

The holiday shopping season presents many opportunities for prepared retailers. As you schedule your staff, be flexible, but be prepared for last-minute changes by anticipating possible challenges. Enjoy the spirit of the season by keeping employees and customers happy with well-planned scheduling for this busy and profitable time.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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