The hectic holiday season is fast approaching, and soon your business will be busy dealing with the end-of-year chaos that comes with it. It can be easy to overlook preparing for HR and other internal issues when your business is caught in what is typically the super busy time.

However, getting started on planning for staffing and scheduling hiccups now can make for a less stressed, more spirited season later on!

Determine Your Minimum Staffing Requirements

Many employees request time off for the holidays, but there are a whole host of other factors that lead to unscheduled absences. Whether it be colds, travel mishaps, or general exhaustion, employees need to recuperate during this time of year. In order to better prepare for the employee shortage, meet with managers from all departments to get a ballpark figure for how many and which people are absolutely necessary to keep your business operational. Depending on your business model, you may also want to get a separate minimum staffing requirement from your customer support team, as they’re usually the most essential service to keep live.

Establish a Contingency Plan

If vital team members are out of commission, it’s important to establish a contingency plan. This ensures you have a strategy for how to deal with any pressing customer service or client concerns that may arise. Assign motivated employees elevated responsibilities within their realm of knowledge, and offer them training to take up their new temporary roles with confidence. When the office is closed over the holidays, another contingency plan may be needed as well.  Consider putting together a roster of employees who want to work remotely and can be on call.

Post a Holiday Schedule

Your employees won’t know what days to request off or base travel plans around if they don’t know what your business hours are scheduled to be! Post a schedule of holiday hours ASAP, and then revise if necessary after time off requests are submitted.

Clarify Your Time Off Policy

Write or revise your time off policy, and then do everything in your power to make sure your team can’t miss it. Email it, share it as a note via your management software, drape it in tinsel and hang it on the fridge — whatever it takes to ensure everyone is aware of the official system and guidelines. Make sure you have a digitized employee time tracking system for submitting, recording, and approving time-off requests to avoid any confusion and to ensure requests are processed in the order that they are submitted.

The earlier you can do this, the better — that way you’ll have a better idea of what your staffing resources look like for the next month or two. By planning ahead of time, you can preemptively prepare your business for the season’s worst, ensuring that you can enjoy the season’s best when the time comes.

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