Ensuring your business has the manpower to handle busy times

You’ve hit a busy spell in your business.

The reasons for this can be plentiful. If you’re a retailer, It might be because of annual sales.

It might be wedding season if you’re in the hospitality sector.

Or perhaps you’ve just hit a busy patch if you’re in a line of work that has unpredictable hot spells.

Whatever the cause, employees will be starting to feel stressed and overworked. You may need them to take on overtime, cancel leave, or work through breaks, and they may not be pleased at the extra hours. It won’t be long until the strain begins to show.

And, because you run a small business, you might have little extra capacity for when difficulties arise. So how big a problem is a busy period, and how can you motivate your employees to keep giving their best during these tough times?

Is being busy a problem?

If your employees are getting stressed, then yes. A government report found that comfortably the biggest factor leading to workplace stress was workload, with lack of support from management also featuring prominently.

Of course, when your business is busy, you too will be stressed so will be less able to give the support that you desperately want to provide to keep your employees happy.

These employees may decide, understandably, to see if the grass is greener elsewhere and this will cost your business. Acas described the costs of replacing an employee as “startling” at more than £30,000.

The bulk of those costs came from lost productivity while a new employee got used to their new role. Other costs included those associated with hiring such as advertising and agency fees.

What can be done?

How can you help your workforce stay calm and focussed during a busy period? The following tips are some of the best available that will help you to keep your employees motivated and happy during a busy spell.

Plan ahead

You may work in a sector with well-known busy times or it may be that they are unpredictable. If the former, ensure you have extra cover in place.

That might involve requesting that employees didn’t take holidays during these periods or bringing in extra temporary workers. Communicate the reasons why; perhaps offer increased pay during those times.

If peak periods are harder to predict, having a group of temporary or flexible workers becomes even more important. These could be recruited through an agency or just be a list of employees who are happy to pick up extra hours.

An experienced freelancer who is happy to chip in would be ideal, while students are often keen for real work experience and may jump at the chance.

These changes will likely necessitate a more flexible rota as regular shifts are moved around and perhaps even new shifts are added. Using an adaptable scheduling solution like Findmyshift can be a big boon to businesses during these busy periods.

Offer training

Again, this is all about preparation. If an employee already knows how to do a task, they will obviously be able to complete it more quickly. Similarly, versatility is also important.

It may be that a busy spell means extra hands are needed on reception but not so much elsewhere, so ensure that other employees are trained to work in those busier areas if needed. Investing in training will also help your employees feel valued.

You can also delegate to ensure that tasks are distributed fairly. A junior employee may not be able to do everything a senior employee does, but they might be able to do some of it and relieve some of the pressure.

Make the most of quiet spells

Try to get as many routine tasks done as possible when things are less busy. You might need to order new stock, for example, so make sure you do it well before you need to if you can. And there’s always paperwork! Ensure you are up to date so that you don’t find yourself needing to do it when you hit a busy spell.

You can also utilise the quieter times to improve employee morale. Maybe arrange an exercise afternoon or a team-bonding session. Or simply, just allow them to go home a bit earlier so they have enough in reserve when everything gets hectic.

Embrace flexibility

It may be possible for you to let your employees work from home. Say you’re a web design firm with a surge in orders. Is it necessary that all the work be done in the office? Or that it be done in working hours?

Trust your employees to work in the evenings or when they have some spare time to take the pressure off during the day if they wish.

They may appreciate it if they are able to pick up the kids from school but find that they have some quiet time to work when they have gone to bed. Discuss what would help.

Be prepared

Above all, these tips have one thing in common: you shouldn’t wait for things to get busy before you come up with a plan!

Predict when peak times might be, invest in training ahead of time, ensure you have a happy group of employees, and busy periods will be far easier.


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