Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Managing Your Business’ Workload During The Holidays

The winter holidays offer a chance for employees and managers at your business to spend quality time with their families, decompress, and recharge their batteries. But for many businesses, December is the busiest time of year, and few can afford to shut down entirely for longer than a week. If you want to allow everyone at your company to enjoy a little time off, you’ll need a strategy to manage issues that may arise while you’re short-staffed.

Plan ahead.

If you can firm up details about the availability of your staff and co-workers well ahead of the
holiday season, you’ll be able to design your schedule with greater precision. This will help you avoid the stress of trying to fill in gaps at critical times, and allow you and your staff to set your holiday itineraries. This is especially important if you, or any of your employees or co-workers, hopes to travel.

Rotate on-call responsibility.

Work out a plan to share phone- and e-mail-answering duties, and allow for some flexibility. Draw straws or flip a coin for those occasions that are unlikely to entice many enthusiastic volunteers (like the morning of December 25, or the morning of January 1). Set up shifts, and make sure everyone is aware of when h/er shift begins and ends. To save time and energy on tasks that run across multiple shifts, the person who initiated the work should send an e-mail to the other staff describing the assignment, and what remains to be done. If you shut down your business for a few days, create answering machine messages and automated e-mails to let clients and customers know when they can expect you to return to work.

Share the load.

If there are assignments that need to get finished during the holiday season, try to divide the tasks so that no one feels overburdened. You can do this for both work-related and domestic chores—like decorating the house, cooking, and organizing for holiday parties and social events. Share and delegate!

Design an effective online contact/order form.

An online contact form, with fields that allow clients and customers to describe what they need in detail, can be a great asset during the holidays; it allows you to automate orders so that no one must respond in real time. While designing your form, keep economy of customer/client effort in mind. In other words, the form fields should provide space for essential information, with an optional field for notes. Overly wordy or complicated contact/order forms tend to dissuade prospective form-fillers, who may just prefer to wait—or take their business elsewhere.

Complete generic or non-time-sensitive tasks in advance.

Your holiday consists of precious moments, not surplus time. If your work involves weekly blog or social media posts, for example, prepare a few in advance so you can simply click “Publish” when you need to. Dedicate your spare time to completing assignments before you take a holiday, and you’ll free up additional time for family, friends, and valuable relaxation during that holiday.

Live in the moment and enjoy yourself.

If you’ve set aside a few hours for family and fun activities, don’t taint them by worrying about work. Leave your job behind and enjoy the holiday experience.