For consumers, the holiday shopping season may seem like a sprint (especially this year, when it’s so short). But for retailers and their employees, it’s more like a marathon.
Beginning in summer when you start planning your strategy and ordering your inventory, through Black Friday when the season officially kicks off, small business owners and their teams work nonstop to make the holiday shopping season pay off.
Now, the end of the marathon is very near – but can your employees actually make it to the finish line?
Below are some tips to help energize employees to handle the rush through the end of the season.
How to Energize Employees for the Holiday Season
Yes, we know you’re crazy-busy yourself, but it’s especially crucial to be present in the store this time of year. Don’t be an absentee owner—make sure you’re active both on the front lines and in the stockroom, so you can keep an eye on what’s going on.
The goal is not to get bogged down in tasks someone else can do, like spending your whole day ringing up orders, but to focus on the “big picture” and troubleshoot issues to keep everything running smoothly.
Think like a manager, not a clerk, and make sure your clerks have what they need to do their jobs.
Break It Up
Providing frequent short breaks can help employees re-energize. Make sure your team gets their scheduled breaks and meal times. However, you can also re-energize workers in-between their official breaks. Simply switching between tasks is often enough to recharge someone’s batteries.
For instance, if a worker has been on the register for an hour dealing with an unending line of impatient customers, try switching her to straightening the stockroom, or another behind-the-scenes task so she can get some downtime from human interaction.
Back Them Up
Speaking of difficult customers, I know the customer is always right – but it’s important to have your employees’ backs. Empower your team to make their own decisions as to how to satisfy customers, while being sure they know the parameters within which they can operate. However, if a customer is being unreasonable and your employee is being abused, that’s when you need to step in and take charge.
Never negate your employees’ actions or criticize them in front of others – this will demoralize workers who are already working hard. Simply remove them from the situation in a polite, but firm way so you can handle the problem customer.
Make It Fun
There are all kinds of ways you can make the workplace more fun and help your team blow off steam. Bring in donuts or holiday treats, have employee dress-up days, or create silly employee contests like having people bring in their baby pictures with Santa and see if you can identify everyone. Bonus: A fun workplace spills over to the customers, making your store a fun place for them to be, too.
Reward Their Work
When possible, be flexible with holiday schedules and your employees will thank you. If there’s no room for days (or even afternoons) off, an hour off here or there can work wonders to reward an employee.
Consider rewarding employees who work the toughest shifts with something extra (beyond holiday pay). Give an award for “employee of the day” or for going above and beyond. Or hand out random small rewards, like gift cards, when you see employees doing something extra-special (you may even be able to barter for gift cards with other local businesses).
Don’t Stop Too Soon
Remember, the holiday shopping season doesn’t end with Christmas. Be prepared for the post-holiday rush of returns, exchanges and customers with gift cards in hand ready to spend.
Keep employees psyched up to keep the energy going through the first week of January too.
When it’s all over, be sure to thank your team with a well-earned holiday luncheon, dinner out or company party to celebrate the New Year and the end of the holiday rush.
Tire Employee Photo via Shutterstock