As anyone who is responsible for workforce scheduling knows, ensuring adequate staff cover in summer and at popular holiday times can be a real headache. Add to that the problem of parents having to take time off to care for their children at half term and staff scheduling can turn into a logistical nightmare.
Many businesses experience a downturn in turnover during peak holiday periods as most of their customers are also on holiday. In such cases, it may make economic sense to run the business using only essential core staff or even close down completely for a week or two.
However, not every business owner can afford the luxury of being able to shut down completely for the holidays. Indeed, some sectors, notably travel, leisure and hospitality, experience even greater demand for their services during the holiday season.
Using workforce management software will make it easier for you to handle holiday cover. It also avoids the risk of leaving your business understaffed or employees feeling demoralised if they can’t get time off.
Factors to consider
When drafting your holiday coverage schedule, there are many things to bear in mind:
· Determine staffing requirements – Use Employee scheduling software to analyse past records in order to predict how much staff coverage you are likely to need during peak holiday periods. Summer months and Christmas are often slow for many industry sectors, so you may need fewer workers or be open for shorter hours.
· Communicate clearly - Let staff know well in advance what is needed to keep the business running over the holiday period. Ensure they are aware of the company holiday policy, which days (if any) the business will be closed for the holidays and exceptionally busy periods when they cannot take time off.
· Be flexible – Does everyone need to be physically present in the workplace? If working remotely is a viable option, some employees could spend more time with their families during the holidays and still get their jobs done.
· Be fair - Most employees will want the same days off, but you should be aware that some may need more time off because they have to travel a long way to spend the holidays with their families. Using a software system that combines employee records with employee scheduling will keep managers aware of such special requirements.
· Rotate holidays – Workforce management is far more likely to work without complaint at holiday time if employees know they won't be forced to do the same next year. Staff management software can help you to keep track of who took which days off during the holiday season so you can ask different people to provide cover over the holidays the following year.