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Five Challenges for Businesses in the Festive Period

Posted by iAM Learning

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“All available staff to the checkouts, please!”

Groan. You’ve got a pile of paperwork to do, a massive delivery has just arrived at the back door and there’s what appears to be ten thousand customers between you and the tills. All you want to be doing right now is sitting in front of the fire, wrapped in a blanket, chomping a mince pie and slurping an Irish cream-flavoured hot chocolate with a heart-warming Christmas film on the telly.

One of the biggest business challenges during this, the busiest trading season of the year for 80% of businesses, is keeping staff engaged and morale up. Whether you work in a shop, hotel, restaurant or anywhere else, the Christmas period is tricky to navigate without major burnout. And that’s the last thing anyone wants at this time of year.

So, what are the biggest challenges, and how do we overcome them successfully?

Staff Retention 

With more customers, harder work and potentially longer opening hours, it’s a small wonder that employees face extra stress and workloads. This might encourage some to throw in the towel and ‘start afresh’ in the New Year. This can be tackled by being appreciative, flexible with shifts where possible and reminding staff that they are valued.

Staff Morale & Engagement

That festive rush can really sap morale – long hours, grumpy customers and little to no downtime do take their toll on morale and engagement. To challenge these feelings, spirits should be kept up. Schedule regular breaks, and offer rewards, incentives, and words of encouragement to help staff feel valued. Things like a team meal or surprises work well, but personal development training courses can help them deal with stress better too, so make time for it.

Challenging Customers

The festive season brings out all kinds of emotions in customers. When times are tough, anger and frustration boil over more easily. A little extra empathy and patience go a long way for retail and hospitality staff. Encouraging employees to take a breath and see past the surface feelings allows compassion to come through. A caring ear and useful solutions demonstrate goodwill despite the stresses that shoppers face. With some cheer spreading on both sides of the counter, don’t let run-ins with rowdy customers ruin the holiday spirit.

Staff Sickness 

We get it. The colder weather this time of year can result in lower immunity. Everyone seems to know someone with the sniffles, colds, COVID, ‘Flu and winter bugs, and they are eager to spread in crowded shops. That means absence levels often rise just as extra staff are needed most. Maintaining operations with a depleted team calls for careful planning and creativity. It certainly will help to have a great relationship with staffing agencies too. Good sick leave policies should allow employees valuable time to recover and crucially, stop the spread. Ensure they are in place beforehand.

Products & Deliveries

Issues and delays with deliveries can dampen spirits. Stock shortages or damaged goods lead to unhappy customers and lost sales. Ensuring adequate backup stock and not over-ordering provides a safety net. With careful preparation by staff, the festive rush can be managed smoothly despite potential supplier hiccups.

As you’ve seen, there are some obvious challenges during this time of year – but there are often solutions, too. It’s important to remember that even when things are looking bleak, these challenges can be overcome. Plan ahead now and you’ll have your feet up by the fire in no time.

To help you during the busy festive period, we’ve created a bundle of useful resources and bitesize training courses in our Festive Productivity Power Kit that you can download for FREE today. They only take a few precious minutes and can help your staff be prepared for whatever comes next. Get yours now! Get in touch with us today or sign up for a FREE 7 day trial to try iAM Learning for yourself.

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