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For many business owners, the last few months of the calendar year can be both incredibly profitable and painfully stressful. The holiday season often brings more foot traffic, more customers, and more sales, but it can also bring more headaches. Ask business owners what their biggest challenge is when it comes to running their business during the peak holiday season, and they’ll most likely all give the same answer: staffing.
As the final months of the year approach, you might find yourself needing to allocate more time, resources, and people toward processing and fulfilling an increase in sales orders, doubling down on customer service, or managing more inventory. Making it through the season will involve some combination of increasing the hours of your year-round employees, hiring and training temporary seasonal workers, and spending a lot more time making work schedules to ensure that your business is never left understaffed.
Not surprisingly, this time of year can be draining for a lot of teams. If you’re looking to prevent employee burnout, boost productivity, and maximize sales at your business from now until the end of the year, try implementing these five tactics:
The best way to prepare for a successful year-end season is to simply plan ahead. You can eliminate or significantly reduce a lot of unnecessary stress by taking the time to sit down and come up with a game plan for how you and your team are going to make it through the last few months of the year. To plan ahead, think about:
- The challenges you encountered last year and what you can do to avoid them this year
- The resources you need to make it through the season (tools, people, money)
- The specific goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re hoping to achieve
Planning ahead takes time, but doing so will allow you and your team to be much more comfortable and successful when activity at your business really starts picking up.
In order to keep your business running at full steam during the last few months of the year (or any time of the year, for that matter), you have to invest in technology and tools that can help you automate tasks and boost efficiency. You simply can’t do it on your own. There are a lot of tools out there that can help make your responsibilities and your team members’ responsibilities a lot more manageable. Here are a few examples:
- When I Work can help you with employee scheduling, attendance, and communication.
- Shopventory can help you manage inventory and keep track of sales.
- Xero can help you with all your accounting and bookkeeping needs.
Using tools to automate and streamline processes and tasks at your business can lead to a happier, more productive environment for your entire team.
Hire seasonal help.
If you know that your business typically experiences a busy season around this time of year, don’t wait until the last minute to hire extra help. Competition for hourly employees is fierce, particularly during the holiday season. Take the time to hire temporary seasonal workers weeks in advance of when you really need them. Use the extra time to train them how to interact with customers, fulfill orders, or perform any other tasks you need help with. To find reliable hourly workers, ask for referrals from your existing employees, or use a site like Snagajob.
To keep your team happy and engaged during the last few months of the year, go out of your way to keep them in the loop. Make sure your employees know what you expect from them and what they should expect as they enter the holiday season. As a business owner or manager, the worst thing you can do when things get a bit chaotic is to go into autopilot mode and disengage from your team. Make an effort to meet with your team regularly to keep them up to speed, listen to their concerns, and prepare them for the work ahead.
Remember that your employees are people too — they have goals, interests, and lives outside of work. To prevent burnout and boost productivity across your team, do your best to empower your employees. For example, you can:
- Give employees projects that they can “own” outside of their normal daily duties.
- Allow employees to take time off or trade shifts with coworkers if needed.
- Remind them that the work they do has meaning and purpose.
When you take time to make your employees feel appreciated, they work harder to make your business successful.