With the Midsummer holiday now past and the UK currently basking in an unseasonable heat wave, thoughts inevitably turn to the time of year where it can feel like more staff are on vacation than are actually working.
Vacations are great and, while we’re passionate about enjoying work, we also realise the important benefits having a great vacation can bring like giving your employees time to recharge their batteries and come back refreshed, revitalised and more engaged.
As Shawn Achor, best-selling author and the man behind one of the most popular TED Talks, says: “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain. To be truly engaged at work, your brain needs periodic breaks to gain fresh perspective and energy.”
But equally, there’s the needs of the business to consider and, for many of you, summer months are some of the busiest in the year which means it’s of paramount importance to have the right people in the right place at the right time. What’s more, you need to make sure you have the people with the right skills working - if you run a busy bar and all your supervisors are away for the World Cup final you might find you’ll struggle!
Of course, trying to manage when people are working, when people are on vacation and who you have available to work on any given day with traditional methods (be they a spreadsheet or pen and paper) can quickly leave you frustrated while making it much easier for mistakes to be made.
Using technology, and systems like workforce management software, where everything can be controlled from one place, will make your life much easier by automating your labour intensive processes and improving the way you communicate with your staff.
However, there are other ways you can prepare and optimise your business for the holiday season.
1. Plan in advance
Simply knowing when your employees are going to be on leave and having a clear, robust system in place for how leave requests are granted and actioned can have a huge difference. Communicating this process to your staff is also key. Make sure they understand how the process of requesting leave works, how they do it and any other actions they need to take.
Again, managing this in a workforce management system can save you hours and hours of time. With modern solutions, rules can be set so this process can be automated if appropriate. You can also use the same solutions to schedule in advance. By publishing schedules up to six months in advance, you’ll give employees ample time to plan their vacations around when they are working.
2. Be flexible
While planning in advance brings with it a host of benefits, you also need to be flexible with your schedules, primarily because giving an element of control to your employees over when they work can have a significant positive impact on employee engagement and make your employees happier.
Take the World Cup again as an example - it’s been one of the most unpredictable tournaments in memory and there’s every chance teams we wouldn’t expect (England?!?) could go far in the competition. If this were to happen it would be understandable if a number of your staff were looking to change their shifts so they could watch the game. Rather than being fixed to your schedule, you should offer them the ability to easily switch shifts. The same applies to people who might be looking to take a mini-vacation to enjoy the sunny weather. By giving them the option, and the flexibility, to take leave without there being a negative impact on the business, you’re giving them control over their lives which is invaluable when it come to employee engagement.
The simple act of being able to manage when they work, managing their leave and seeing the hours they’ve worked (especially when it can all be done through an app) is empowering for staff who have, historically, felt like they haven’t been heard. In a recent study, 95% of part-time workers strongly agreed that using an app makes it easy for them to adjust their schedules in order to fit their needs.
3. Understand your business
Great forecasting is the essential ingredient to understanding your business. You need to know when you’re going to be busy, what your peak times of business are and how many staff you need scheduled at any one time to keep customer satisfaction high. Historical data is key to understanding this but so are other factors like everything from the weather to big sporting events. The more data you can gather about your business the better your forecasting will be. And through better forecasting you’ll have better scheduling making it easier for you to grant leave requests and deal with people taking time off.
See for yourself how a modern, mobile-first workforce management solution works (and how it can benefit your business) in our free ‘on demand’ webinar.