Before It Begins: How to Help Workers Through the Holiday Season

Nov 22, 2013

Retailers are opening their doors earlier than ever this Thanksgiving, and retail workers will have their hands full.

What was once an extended set of holiday working hours has become an almost 24/7 work cycle between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as companies face increased competition and pressure to meet revenue goals.

While Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season is great for business, it can be taxing on employees, who more often than not give up family and holiday time to work extended shifts.

Tips to help retail employees through the season

As the face of these organizations, retail workers have a tremendous influence on repeat shoppers and customer loyalty — if customers pick up on negative worker attitudes and frustrations, they may decide to shop elsewhere during the holiday season and in the future, so it is key for retailers to go the extra mile to ensure workers are engaged and appreciated during this hectic time.

Here are three tips to help ensure retail employees are as comfortable as possible throughout the busy holiday season:

  1. Explain the need early on — Educate employees about the importance of their contributions during the holiday shopping season, e.g., X percent of our sales are achieved during this period. By treating employees like partners and making them part of the overall goal, they are more likely to stay engaged and work toward it.
  2. Provide some perks — Working on Thanksgiving Day or arriving at 4 am is asking a lot from anyone. Retailers should go the extra mile by offering more creature comforts to make workers feel more relaxed and valued. This could include catering meals throughout the day, loosening the dress code, offering additional employee discounts, or scheduling extra break time.
  3. Express gratitude — Above all, retailers should recognize that employees are going above and beyond and demonstrate appreciation for those efforts frequently. Saying “thank you” and expressing sincere gratitude can do wonders for lifting spirits during a grueling shift. Of course managers should be doing this every day, but a special focus should be made during the holidays to recognize discretionary efforts.

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of togetherness, celebration, and family, and that should carry over to the workplace. By planning ahead, preparing employees, and keeping up a supportive environment, working a Black Friday shift doesn’t have to feel like you’re too far away from home.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.

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