What Can Companies Do to Prepare for the Holiday Season Workload Spike?

For many companies, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. With many employees requesting time off to visit friends and family, keeping the office fully staffed can be the most troubling challenge of all. If you are looking for a way to keep up with all the demands without working your employees to the bone, read what these business experts recommend.

Jonathan Saeidian

Jonathan Saeidian

Jonathan Saeidian, Founder and CEO of BrentonWay.

Hire Freelancers to Augment Your Workforce

Hire remote freelancers as a load management strategy
In my experience as a tech entrepreneur, I have found this to be a very useful strategy during the holidays. Many of my clients tend to “dump” a lot of work during the holidays. In times like these, you wouldn’t want to overload your full-time staff with extra work as they might want some time off. Also, you don’t want to hire extra staff just to cover the workload, only to lay them off after when things get back to normal. Hiring freelancers for the duration of the holiday season would solve much of your workload problems.

Why freelancers?
Of course, the question would then be: wouldn’t freelancers also be unavailable during the holidays? In my experience, it’s yes and no. Yes, some freelancers choose to have a holiday themselves but also no. There will always be those who will cash in on the situation. Experienced freelancers know that companies are looking for [freelancers] more during this time, and they are more than ready to oblige. As freelancers, they are also already flexible, so working during the holidays isn’t a problem for many of them.

Work out your load management strategy
To do this successfully, you need to get clear on which aspects of your business can be handled by freelancers and which ones need the attention of your full-time staff. I don’t think there is an exact way to do this, but the rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether it is essential for someone on your full-time team to get a certain job done. If the answer is no, then a freelancer may be up to that job. You need to plan [ahead], as finding the right freelancers for the job can also take time.

3 Steps to Preparing for the Holiday Season

Holidays happen every single year, and this cyclical nature is the key to being ready to handle a holiday workload. There are a few ways you can take advantage of this:

1. Save your holiday stuff.
Advertising material, banners, website designs, etc., can all be easily reused from year to year with only minor modifications.

2. Bring back seasonal employees who have been successful in the past.
Especially if your business relies heavily on freelancers, you can have the luxury of bringing people on for the busy season and then letting them go with some degree of confidence that they’ll be available next year as well.

3. Prepare all year.
For many businesses, the holiday season is the single most profitable time of the year, and this level of income demands a corresponding level of investment. Consider making seasonal planning a permanent task for somebody.

Devon Fata

Devon Fata

Devon Fata, CEO of Pixoul.

Eric Jones

Eric Jones

Eric Jones, CEO of Couture Candy.

Prioritize and Schedule Important Tasks

Completing the holiday workload means opening early, closing late, or reconciling the books at the end of the year. For some employees, the holiday season might mean more stress rather than celebrations, which is why it’s important to prepare for the spike in workload in the coming holiday season.

Prioritize Your Priorities
Make a list of all the things that you want to focus on more and tell your team members about it. It simply means you need your employees to focus on certain important things first rather than the unimportant ones because you want them to complete as many things as you can cover within the specified time frame. The time factor should be taken into consideration as soon as the holiday season begins.

Schedule and Organize All Your Tasks
It’s important to assign a time preference for every task on your list. Manage and schedule your meetings, tasks, and appointments so that they don’t conflict with your holiday tasks. Keep a calendar with all the dates and tasks, mark them and finish each one of them before the deadline.

Bonus tips to help your employees manage the holiday stress: 

  • Have an employee assistance and care program
  • Show appreciation in the form of incentives, bonuses, and holiday coupons
  • Arrange holiday dinner and parties
  • Provide special holiday bonus for shopping
  • Arrange extra work shifts for the ones who want to earn extra income
  • Schedule holiday events and programs during the holiday

Plan Ahead and Delegate

You may think that it’s too early, but what you need to keep in mind, is that planning ahead of time gives allowance for any delay or mishap. Plotting your to-do’s will be a huge help to meeting deadlines and preventing office burnout brought about by a stressful or jam-packed workflow.

In scheduling tasks, you will know what can be done right away and what needs a little more effort. Thus, the delegation of workload will be a lot easier too.

Willie Greer

Willie Greer

Willie Greer, Founder of The Product Analyst.

Lance Wilkins

Lance Wilkins

Lance Wilkins, Founder of Call Outdoors.

Automate the Workflow Early

If you are looking to beat the spike in work during the festive season, automate your workflow processes now. Ensure that every employee understands the individual components that go into the entire workflow process.

Automating workflow processes eliminates the risk of trying to figure out the “where, when, and how” during the festive craziness.

Tips on Preparing for a Holiday Workload Spike

Begin Early
As the holidays near, companies ramp up their hiring processes, and the talent pool shrinks considerably. Moving early will not only offer access to skilled and diverse talent but also ensure a smooth, timely, and no-rush implementation.

Create Policies and Shift Schedules in Advance
Plan the processes and operations early on so that there is time to smoothen out the obstacles. Create policies, plan shifts, and clarify roles that will help manage the workforce. Be sure to check whether the entire life cycle of new employees (whether full-time or contractual) is compliant with the local and national laws.

Setting the Right Expectations
Focus on having clear and transparent communication with all new hires and set the right expectations. Train managers and leaders to support new employees and give feedback.

Training Support
Prepare resources, tools, and mentors to offer the required support for new employees to become productive and efficient quickly. If you have hired seasonal workers before, this [step] should be standard instructions and training on how to help them fulfill their responsibilities.

Invest in the Right Tools
Whether it is hiring, people management, time management, productivity tracking, or communication, use the most relevant tools to automate and optimize existing processes.

Look Back and Involve Current Employees
Revisit the experiences of hiring people during the past few holiday seasons to identify areas of strengths and improvement. Engage current employees in understanding where critical support is needed and how new employees can be best utilized.

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan, Senior Employment  Advisor at VelvetJobs.

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan, co-founder of CocoFinder, a company engaged in software development.

3 Ways to Survive the Holiday Rush

As the holidays approach, you should be ready for the spike in workload. With many people holidaying, you may become overwhelmed because some of your employees will be away. Every business owner has to be careful not to overtax the small team that remains. Some of the ways to carry through this period include:

Outsourcing
Outsourcing can involve contacting a support company to provide their expertise during seasons of high demand. You can also hire skilled individuals temporarily whenever you need their services. It will be less costly to the company but will provide the required work.

Automation
Automating your services can help reduce the workload on your team, especially the support team. You can work with saved replies which you can readily send out. Another way is working with an auto-reply email if you think responses will take longer.

Delegation
To save a given set of your team members from handling a majority of the tasks, you can decide to delegate duties. It will help you distribute tasks evenly among the existing employees.

Hire Retirees and Seasonal Employees

My first tip is hiring retirees. Many businesses are discovering that retirees make excellent full-time or part-time employees. Recruit retirees with a relevant job and life experience. They frequently value flexible hours to enjoy their retirement while also earning some money.

Make sure you have a solid training program in place for seasonal employees. Make sure to update SOPs and provide trainers to help individuals get acquainted with the full DC. Mix them in with regular colleagues in various locations across the DC so that you can ensure that they have someone to answer their questions as they learn the operation.

You should have a conversion strategy in place for the end of the season that allows you to hire a specific number of high-performing temps full-time when the season is over. As they search for full-time employment, well-trained and motivated temp workers can occasionally outperform long-term associates.

You may utilize the extra personnel to conduct inventory, cycle counts, or other specific tasks that will help operate more effectively.

Miranda Yan

Miranda Yan

Miranda, Founder of VinPit.

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