Scheduling Your Staff for the Holidays

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The holidays are so close you can taste the pumpkin spice and peppermint. For most, this time of year means gifts and celebration. In the retail space, though, it can be a nightmare season if you haven’t properly prepared. Getting your business ready before the wave of holiday shoppers descend on you is just as important as how well your store actually performs.

What good pre-holiday season preparation means can depend from business to business, but there’s one thing that every owner or manager absolutely needs to consider: staffing.

Know How Much Staff You Need

Before you can do any other staff planning, you need to know how many people you need working per shift. While one or two employees may be enough during the rest of the year, the holiday rush can mean that your staff might get overwhelmed very quickly. “Retail sales are also affected by store traffic and might result in labor-to-traffic mismatches, which can negatively impact revenues,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management visiting professor Rogelio Oliva told Forbes.


Whether that means adding just one more person to your busiest shifts or doubling your employees, figuring out how many people you need on hand during each shift throughout the season is the first thing you need to consider to ensure you’re meeting your staffing needs.

Double Check Time-Off Requests

While checking your staff’s time-off requests is something that you might already be doing, it’s not always common practice in retail. Two employees taking vacation time at the same time might not be an issue during the rest of the year, but with your expanded staffing needs during the holidays, it could mean that your business comes up short-staffed during crucial shifts.

As employees start to request their time off around the holidays, be sure to double check each request against your other employee’s time-off schedules to make sure you’re eliminating any chance of overlap. Ideally, it’s best to have at least one other employee on standby in case someone has to call in sick, or make sure you or your managers are ready to step in when there’s a shift that needs to be covered.

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Be Prepared to Hire Seasonal Staff if Needed

If you’re already feeling the staffing strain, or you don’t want to deny your employees whatever time off they request, you may want to consider hiring seasonal workers. People looking for a seasonal position during the holidays usually understand that time off is extremely limited, given that it’s a retail job during the busiest time of the year.

Seasonal employment is also a great way for people to build their resume, especially teenagers and college students. The younger workers typically have limited availability, making them perfect candidates for weekday evening or weekend shifts. Encouraging your regular staff to take weekday shifts in order to free up the weekend shifts for mostly seasonal employees can be a win-win for everyone. Hiring seasonal employees is also a great way for owners and managers to vet potential candidates for regular positions before actually offering them the job.

o you have tips or tricks on how to make sure your business is properly staffed for the holiday season? Let us know in the comments. 

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