Whether you’re in the retail sector or the service sector, there’s no denying that the festive season we’re now entering will have a significant impact on your business. There may be Christmas songs playing on repeat over the Bluetooth speakers in the office, a tree groaning with baubles and tinsel on the desk dividers, but that doesn’t mean this always feels like the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, a survey in recent years by First Data found that almost a quarter of SME owners feel stressed and overworked over the Christmas period, rather than enjoying it.
With the logistics around increased staff holidays, the cost of an end-of-year party, supplier closures, and a final push towards making your revenue for the year, there’s no wonder that SME’s are stressed and overworked at this time of the year. And that’s before you even take into account the potential complications of Covid-19 restrictions, closures and absences.
SME’s have a lot of baubles in the air at this time of year.
Here’s our survival guide for getting through the Christmas period - and hopefully enjoying it along the way.
Retailers will probably be banking on an end-of-year surge in sales as Christmas approaches, and you will have set sales and marketing processes in place to secure this. Service-sector SME’s will perhaps be expecting a slow-down of business for the two-week period around Christmas and New Year, and have contingencies in place for cash-flow and time management during this slump. If suppliers close over Christmas you need to ensure your orders are in, and you need to communicate and agree with staff about who will be taking holiday and when. In every event, planning ahead of time is crucial - you can never start too early.
Use this time productively
If your business does slow down over Christmas, you have several options. You could communicate to your team that this is a good time for them to take a certain block of their annual leave, so that staff availability is increased at other times of the year, or you could use this quiet period to plan, prepare and strategise so that you start the new year strong.
Address their stress
Remember that your employees have busy lives outside of work, and that the stress they’re experiencing around Christmas time (preparing for visiting family, shopping for gifts and food, making or sourcing costumes for children’s nativity plays…) is likely to impact their work. Understanding and embracing this is the only way to get through it. Consider “gifting” your staff a day off early in December, separate from their annual leave, so that they can dedicate it to preparing for the holidays. (If a full day is impossible, perhaps an extra hour over lunchtime for a week would be better.) Although this may feel counter-productive during such a busy time, you’ll be amazed at the goodwill it promotes, and the chances are you’ll see your staff productivity rise as a result.
To party or not to party - that is the question
Although Christmas parties are fun, they can be a large expense, and can also feel like just another obligation for your staff. Take a poll in the office and ask them what they’d prefer for the Christmas party this year - do they want to take a cooking class where they could prepare some of their Christmas dinner ahead of time, take it home and put it in the freezer for Christmas day? Would they prefer to put the party off completely and have a New Year party in January instead? Do they want to use the Christmas party budget on supporting a charitable cause instead? Or do they indeed want a good old-fashioned night out with their colleagues? Putting these ideas to your staff and having them choose will boost office morale, help your team think about what they want, and take the weight of decision-making off your shoulders.
Allow yourself some Christmas cheer
If you’re feeling stressed and under pressure, it’s not because you’re a bad manager or you’ve done something wrong - the end of the year is simply a stressful time. Just as you do in your home life, make lists of essential tasks, delegate where you can, and tick items off the list as you go. Make notes about what works well over this period and what doesn’t, so that next year you can recycle the good and make changes where you need to. If you have staff shortages and business interruptions, the chances are you’re working even harder than usual so above all, be kind to yourself - it’s the best way to get through the holidays.
We wish our InstaPeople family and very happy, healthy and enjoyable festive season.
At InstaPeople, your success story is our success story, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with Lindy and her team today so we can accompany you on your recruitment journey.