It’s that time of year again when thoughts drift to the long, hazy, carefree days of summer. The vacation season is nearly upon us and businesses across Europe are gearing up for an influx of holiday visitors but also the need to deal with staff going on holiday.
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.
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 your business falls into this category then being prepared for a busy summer season is a must. With the right preparation, you have the perfect opportunity to deliver a fantastic end product, a high value experience to your customers and significant improvements to your bottom line.
We typically see peaks in summer business for attractions, hotels, restaurants, bars and airports. And, for businesses like this, a good summer can be the difference to having a hugely successful year or a poor one. By preparing correctly, you can ensure you’re in the best possible position to have a successful summer no matter what challenges are thrown at you.
Here’s some guidance on where to start:
1. Be flexible
The thought of flexibility might be challenging when you’re facing staff shortages but giving staff some leeway will prove beneficial in the long term. Employees who are given the flexibility to choose their own schedule will be happier and want to stick around – even over those busier and more difficult periods. With the right tools and technology in place, flexible working can allow businesses to improve productivity, save time, reduce costs, improve employee retention and boost employee happiness.
2. Use seasonal workers
The great news is that a different season brings with it a different workforce. Each summer hundreds of thousands of university students will be returning home for the long break and looking for a way to make some quick cash. Students may not have the experience or skills on paper, but many are willing to learn – and giving them a job over the summer months allows employers to trial them in preparation for another busy time at Christmas.
3. Prepare for the unexpected
How quickly can your business respond to the events happening around you? For example, are you ready to cope if there’s another heatwave in Europe and a big influx of visitors? Equally, if your business relies on good weather and we have weeks of rain - can you effectively manage your overheads to make sure you’re not overspending, especially on wages? Having the right tools and procedures in place to help you deal with the unexpected can end having a significant impact on your bottom line. With workforce management software, it’s as easy as pushing a button to open up new shifts and to manage your labour costs.
4. 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.
5. Plan and communicate
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.
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.
Download our free guide on strategic workforce management to find out more about the different ways you can prepare your business for summer and into the future.