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Staffing Your Business Correctly for Holidays

a picture of an alarm clock and the words BLACK FRIDAY, one of the busiest shopping holidays of the year
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It’s not just restaurants and retailers that consider October to January to be the “busy season.” Various reports show that between 30 and 45 percent of all businesses have a spike in activity during the holidays, enough to necessitate adding supplemental staff. This is especially true with restaurant businesses and retailers. Be cautious, because a temporary increase in business doesn’t guarantee that you’ll need to add to your current workforce. Crunch the numbers, including evaluating anticipated performance levels, and allow yourself enough time to plan accordingly. Here’s how to staff your business correctly for holidays.

Crunch the numbers to determine correct staffing for the holiday

Depending on the size of your organization and your area of responsibility, determining whether or not to hire extra help for the holiday season may be relatively easy. If you’ve been established for a while, you should have production and/or sales data from previous years. Taking into consideration positive or negative year-over-year trends, calculate the increased percentage of the holiday season in comparison to the rest of year. Use this number to forecast the estimated workforce necessary by considering the employees most affected by the increased activity.

Example holiday staffing situation

For example, suppose ABC Restaurant has 10 production cooks, four waiters and five other employees. Overall sales and production volume increases an average of 15% from October to January. If allowing overtime isn’t an option, ABC Restaurant will need to bring on two to three FTE workers to supplement the business, assuming the workload of all employees is affected during these months. If only production workers were affected, one to two additional workers would be needed.

FTE stands for full-time equivalent, so this would mean any number of workers whose hours equal that of one full-time employee. ABC Restaurant could hire four to six part-time employees to meet their needs. However, if overtime is an option, ABC may not need to hire any staff at all. Staffing correctly for the holidays doesn’t always mean adding more staff. In this case, as few as five extra hours per week for each employee may cover the busy time. For your business, it may be a matter of walking the labor scheduling tightrope. Without the expenditures of recruiting, hiring and training, the cost of overtime pay for these employees may be negligible.  And, even better, the existing employees may love the additional hours!

Obviously, companies – especially larger ones – need to assess a number of other factors, as well. If customer service is key to the success of your organization, be sure to over estimate labor needs, rather than under estimating customer service requirements.

Plan accordingly for the number of staff you need

Staffing correctly for the holidays doesn’t stop with crunching the numbers. Once you’ve decided upon the number of temporary employees you’ll need to hire (if any), allow yourself the opportunity to adequately prepare for the onboarding process. Begin the process a minimum of five weeks before the anticipated start date for new hires. Keep costs down by advertising only where necessary. Ask current employees for referrals and interview all potential candidates. Prepare for an arduous process as staffing seasonal help can be difficult, and the new hires may not all show up on day one.

For further assistance in the hiring process, see How to Hire for the Holidays: 3 Ways to Get it Right.

Use the TimeForge products – Scheduling, Attendance, Human Resources, and Daily Log, to easily manage your staffing needs during the holidays.  With TimeForge’s innovative online software, business owners and management are always at the top of their game. TimeForge makes quick work of painful tasks, like onboarding new employees – saving business owners valuable time and effort.  Try TimeForge today!

If you found this post helpful, you might also like our holiday advice for new managers.

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