The holiday season can provide a much-needed break for you and your employees. Taking time away from the office is often a good way to recharge and renew your dedication to the business, but the holiday season can cause increased stress levels for small business owners or managers. The primary problem with the holiday season is that everyone wants to be off work at the same time. In most cases, letting your office turn into a ghost town for one to two weeks is simply not an option.
Luckily, there are easy tips for keeping your business running during the holiday season.
Creating Your Holiday Season Business Schedule
The key to running a successful business during the holiday season is to plan ahead as best you can. Ideally, you should begin asking your employees about their holiday vacation plans six months in advance. For the people who never deviate from a holiday routine, you can get definitive vacation plans during the summer. On the other hand, many employees wait until the last minute to make their holiday plans because they’re waiting on distant family to plan events.
Most likely, you won’t get to put together your holiday business schedule until after Halloween. While you always want to accommodate employee travel plans as best you can, never lose sight of the fact that business comes first. Before you approve everyone’s requests, make sure you assess your staffing needs for the holidays. Ask yourself:
- Can I close the business on certain days during the holiday season?
- Do I need to keep regular hours, or are shorter days an option?
- How many people will I need in the office each day to keep business running smoothly?
- Will my customers turn to the competition if they cannot reach anyone in the office the day before or after a major holiday?
The nature of your business will help you decide exactly how many people can be off at once. For example, banks or retail stores with high customer contact will require multiple people on hand each day during the holidays. Businesses with less customer contact may be able to close for a series of days during the holidays without impacting the customer experience.
Holiday Season Damage Control Strategies for Your Business
Unfortunately, the holiday season can wreak havoc on your business even when you take the time to plan. Bad weather can delay flights, employees can become ill during family gatherings, employees can discover they didn’t request enough time off in advance. At some point, you may face a short staffing situation for any or all of these reasons. To prepare for the worst:
- Find out who among your staff will be staying in town during their vacation, just in case an emergency strikes
- Stay in contact with your staff by phone if you won’t be in the office during the holidays
- Work out back up plans for employee no shows and inclement weather.
The real key to keeping your business running during the holiday season is to stay flexible. Unless you work in a retail environment that will experience an increase in business during November and December, remember that things may be slow during your short staffing situation anyway. Panic and apprehension is unnecessary. Instead, use that sense of urgency to start planning for the new year.