As many offices start to wind down for Christmas, the retail and hospitality sectors will be ramping up for their busiest season. Last year UK shoppers spent an estimated £21.6 billion on presents over the festive period, and this year’s figures are looking just as promising. And as Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, it is likely to be an exceptional day for retailers like Fenwick’s which will be opening its doors for the first time in 124 years.
In the retail and hospitality sectors, many companies employ thousands of seasonal employees over the Christmas and New Year period to cope with increased demand. Amazon made headlines earlier this year by announcing the hire of 100,000 people for the festive period, a 25% jump from last year.
Despite many employers having already recruited and trained high volumes of temporary staff, managers still have some major tasks on their hands in coordinating shifts and making sure frontline staff are equipped to deal with the pressure of the Christmas crowds.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Forward-planning and continuous evaluation is essential for identifying exactly what roles are needed, whether that’s people to ‘meet and greet’, manage customer service issues or direct people on where to go. To cope with this busy time of year, people need to be flexible, good at working under pressure and able to think on their feet.
For temporary staff who may not have the same understanding of the company’s values, their on-boarding programme needs to give them the essential skills without committing to a full (and costly) induction.
On the planning side, meticulous rotas are needed to make sure enough people are on duty, back-up staff are on call and plenty of breaks are planned to allow colleagues to rest and recuperate.
Upskill existing staff
While there may be a higher number of mistakes made by new staff, managers can leverage this as an opportunity to trust existing staff members to step-up to new responsibilities, giving them hands-on people management opportunities in a contained and short-term situation.
Both managers and high-performing employers can play a pivotal role in keeping staff enthusiastic and motivated. There needs to be regular touchpoints for staff to raise and rectify any issues.
‘Tis the season to be jolly
If you need employees to work on public holidays, managers should look at ways to bring the festive spirit and fun into the working day. Whether it’s running mini competitions, paying for, or providing staff lunches, these gestures will keep the mood of the workforce up, which will create a positive atmosphere for the customers whilst better enabling them to collaborate with each other.
Bringing new staff on board is a great springboard for keeping staff enthusiastic and motivated, and managers can leverage new resources to keep spirits high.
The ghost of Christmas past
Once the Christmas hype has died down, it’s important to review what’s worked, what could be improved and invite feedback from seasonal workers to evolve the recruitment, on-boarding and training programmes in the future.
Rather than starting recruitment from scratch next year, companies should stay in contact with high-performing temporary workers and approach them early with job opportunities to secure them for the next high season.
So while finding having high numbers of seasonal staff in the workforce at the most manic time, it certainly doesn’t need to be a festive headache.