Shorter Lines, More Sales: How to be Smarter About Busy-Season Staffing

The holiday hustle and bustle might seem too far away to worry about, but if you don’t start planning your staffing schedule now, you’re going to regret it sooner than you think. Here’s how to make sure that you’re fully staffed and less stressed this holiday season.

Get employees involved.

Gather together staff who were with you last year and get their feedback on what they think went well and what could be improved in terms of staffing. Then, make sure you take their suggestions into consideration when you’re putting the schedule together. If you get employees involved, they’ll know that you care about their input and will be more likely to be onboard with your plan.

Determine your busiest times.

In addition to the anecdotal evidence of what you and your staff recall from last holiday season, you can use your Square Dashboard to get sales data on your busiest times, days, and weeks from last year. You can also check your sales history from the Square Dashboard app. This data will help you make informed decisions about when you need all hands on deck and whether you should hire seasonal help.

Set an early deadline for time-off requests.

Start talking to your employees about their holiday plans now. Staff members who have been with you the longest should get priority, especially if they worked less desirable days last year. Seasonal employees should be hired with the agreement that they have to be available on certain peak days. By setting a deadline for vacation requests, you can avoid last-minute reshuffling during your busiest times.
Incentivize less desirable shifts.

No matter how early your employees submit their requests, it’s just a reality that not everyone will be able to take off certain peak days and times. To make these shifts more appealing, get creative with incentives. Some options to consider are free breakfast (or lunch or dinner), spa gift certificates, a day off, and cash bonuses. You know your staff best, so choose something that they’ll get excited about.

Train your staff to multitask.

If you’re worried about key people being out at the same time, prepare for atypical scheduling situations by training your staff in various roles. That way, you’ll have seamless coverage if you need a last-minute sub. And make sure you have an onboarding protocol in place, especially if you’re hiring seasonal employees. Creating a manual or designating a more tenured staffer to run training sessions will standardize the process for new hires, which will be especially helpful during the hectic holiday season.

Be up-front with customers.

During the holidays, you need to be as transparent with customers as you are with staff about deadlines and limitations. Once you assess your staffing situation, determine what’s feasible in terms of offering services and deliveries during peak times. Whether you fulfill in-town or online orders, be clear about cutoff dates and times for deliveries. Take some of the burden off an already stretched staff by encouraging customers to order early; give them a heads-up with targeted email that you can create with Square’s marketing software.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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