If you want time to deck the halls, you'll need to deck the beast of holiday stress first. It might be a time for festive cheer, goodwill, love, laughter and smiles for most but, for frontline workers across the globe, the Christmas story can often be an entirely different one.
Picture the normal stress of huge workloads, long hours, rushed breaks, and soaring customer expectations. Then, throw in the added pressure from managers to hit targets, all while battling inflation. Oh, and did we mention juggling a personal life on top of it all?
Whether it’s a store associate, someone picking and packing holiday gifts in a warehouse, a delivery driver or anything in between, the holidays are a season full of stress.
We get it, times are tough and for many of you out there this is the busiest time of the year. Despite soaring inflation and a cost of living crisis, NRF are predicting holiday spending is going to be up between 6-8% based on 2021 levels.
It’s easy to get swept up in all the holiday hype and send your stores, warehouses and frontline workers into a panicked frenzy. Yet, despite all of this, we recommend you take a moment in the madness to support your employees this holiday season because it’s your customers and bottom line that will ultimately benefit.
Here’s some simple ways you can make life less stressful for your staff during the holidays:
Perfect your planning
Get your schedules published as far in advance as you can. Not only does this make good business sense, it gives your employees the luxury of planning their social activities around their schedule. It means they don’t have to miss their child’s Christmas production or quality time spent with family and friends, and you can cut overtime costs in half by ensuring your workers take the time they need.
This becomes way easier when you can unleash the full potential of AI-driven strategic workforce planning.
Right people, right place, right time
Getting your staffing levels right will make a world of difference to your employee experience. If you’re understaffed through the holidays you might be saving on the wage bill but will pay the price with below par service, no matter what industry you work in .
Understaffing can mean two things; either you don’t have enough employees on your payroll (meaning you need to recruit) or you don’t have enough employees working at any given time (meaning you need to schedule better).
The bad news; understaffing is common. According to our research, half of the frontline workers we surveyed said they’d experienced understaffing. Out of these, 83% said it makes work more stressful, and 40% said customer service suffers because of it.
Understaffing disappears if you can get the right people in the right place at the right time… but this is easier said than done.
Trying to match your scheduled staff to your forecast demand, without the help of tech, is a near impossible task. You can schedule on a hunch, but scheduling with the help of hyperlocal, AI-powered demand forecasting is better because you can get forecasts based on historical and real-time data for different locations and departments.
Get on task
There’s a reason Santa loves a list! But we’re not talking about a naughty or a nice list here, we’re talking about making the essential tasks you need your frontline workers to carry out super easy to follow.
Often carried out when an employee finds time to do them or under instruction from managers with little or no regard as to when might be the best time to carry them out or the strategic purpose behind the task.
Streamlining and optimizing your task management can help your frontline workers understand which tasks to carry out, how, when, and why, to help drive productivity and customer service while significantly reducing their stress. It also gives workers the opportunity to develop stronger ownership of the roles and the desire to continue to advance within their organizations—the absence of which caused 63% of workers to quit their jobs, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
Be the best listener
It’s going to be all kinds of noisy during the festive season. You’re going to be busy, your staff will be working flat out and it will be all systems go. This means it’s super easy to stop listening to your employees and for their voices to be drowned out in the noise. The truth is, it’s times like this when listening to what’s happening on the ground becomes more valuable than ever.
Use a WFM tool to send instant surveys to your employees to find out how they are doing, what their pain points are and how you can make their lives easier. In retail especially, employees play the most important role in delivering the best possible customer experience. That’s why it pays to listen to them. Not only will you be able to understand what life is like on the frontline, you’ll be showing them you care and that their input is valued.
Put people first
It’s so easy to get sucked into the trap of the holiday season always being about more, more, and more. More customers, more sales, more orders fulfilled, more profit…it’s an exhaustive list and it can be an exhausting list. We can focus so much on hitting all these targets that we forget it’s our people who make the magic happen.
So, if you do anything this Christmas time, make your people feel respected, cared for and valued. It’s the season of goodwill so let the goodwill flow through your organization all the way to your frontline workers.
If you’re looking for more ways to engage and retain your frontline workers, why not download our free guide and discover tips and tricks?