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How Retail Businesses Can Keep Their Staff Happy Over the Festive Period

BY Rebecca | 19 October, 2015 | no comments

The holiday season is fast approaching, and your small retail business is entering the busiest time of the year. All your staff are on hand in the lead-up to Christmas and are working hard. But you’ve just been asked that question. The question that every retail boss up and down the land dreads at this time of year. Can we take holiday between Christmas and New Year?!

You don’t want to be a Scrooge. You want to appear accommodating to your loyal workforce. You genuinely understand that they want to spend Boxing Day with their loved ones. You do too. But it’s Christmas. The most profitable time of year for your business. You can’t close shop at a whim. And you can’t cover everything on your own.

Tackling employee holiday management is a challenge for bosses. Christmas is the one time of year when the majority of your workforce don’t want to be working. So how do you handle a mass exodus from the staffroom without contravening employee contracts?


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Restrict Annual Leave

Decide whether it is could become company policy to restrict annual leave around Christmas time. This isn’t something you can introduce overnight. It would require a change in employment contracts, and terms and conditions. Going forward with new employees, this is something you may wish to consider. Many retailers impose such a restriction. Decide if it is feasible for your business.

Introduce Incentives

Incentivise your workforce to help out over Christmas with holiday bonuses. A one-off payment or overtime arrangement may encourage some of your staff to volunteer. Decide how you want to reward them. Pay is an instant stick and carrot. Or you may instead offer a day in lieu the following year for services rendered. Avoid favouritism or discrimination by offering every member of staff the same incentives.

Introduce Rotas

In the interests of fairness, consider whether a staff rota would work for your business. For example, workers take it in turns to work over the festive period. One year on; one year off. Or those who work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day aren’t then required to work New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Determine if this arrangement would suit your workforce.

Employ Seasonal Workers

Many retailers accommodate the Christmas rush by employing seasonal workers. If you opt to employ seasonal workers, ensure they are fully trained before it gets busy. Start their contracts a month or more before to ease them in gently. They need to be fully inducted and skilled in readiness for the deluge of customers.

Decide if you want to retain seasonal staff into the New Year to cope with the post-festive bargain seekers. Draw up a contract of employment clearly stating the period of employ.

Employ Casual Labour

Employing a pool of ‘reserve’ workers may work for you. Casual contracted workers are called upon during busy trading periods. This includes Christmas and other busy times too. Having a reliable pool of standby staff ensures that permanent staff absences are always covered.

Most people enjoy time off over the Christmas period. Be fair to your employees while ensuring your business maximises its profit-making potential at the same time. Remember, any changes to employment contracts must be permissible within the confines of employment law.



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