5 Ways to Handle Low Staff Availability During Thanksgiving

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With each passing year, the number of people shopping online during the holiday season has drastically increased. Adobe Analytics reported that close to $20 billion was spent during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. 64 million Americans shopped online and offline, during these five days. These figures are projected to increase exponentially this year. However, such upsurge in online and offline shopping can cause enormous stress and pressure to e-commerce staff. Additional sales and order processing often causes stress, anxiety, feeling over-worked, absenteeism, and even a new phenomenon called presenteeism. In this article, let us take a look at five ways you can handle staff shortage during Thanksgiving.

1. Tackle presenteeism efficiently

Presenteeism is a kind of absenteeism where the employee is present at work, but is not working efficiently enough due to stress, ill-health, or lack of motivation. Presenteeism is particularly common during the holiday season, especially during the Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving, online sales increased by 18.3 percent, causing enormous stress to employees. To tackle presenteeism, make sure that your employees are adequately rested, and that work is equally delegated across staff members.

You can also plan well in advance, and make sure that you have a protocol to follow to avoid both absenteeism and presenteeism. Motivate your employees with incentives, holiday coupons, and paid vacations at the end of the shopping season.

2. Seek temporary staffing solutions

Research revealed that there was a 3.5 percent increase in rate of conversion on mobile devices during the last holiday season. To ensure that conversion rates remain high, it is important to seek external help even if it’s temporary. In fact, temporary staffing solutions can reduce the burden on your staff, and help you to increase sales and rate of conversion. External vendors who offer temporary solutions during Thanksgiving focus on a number of non-core business processes which help you to sell better.

Temporary staffing solutions can reduce the burden on your employees and help you tackle low staff availability. This also helps you enhance your customer satisfaction metrics such as CSAT scores.

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3. Delegate work among staff equally

On Cyber Monday alone, there were 81 million shoppers online. This means, your staff will have to handle social media queries, answer calls, process orders, and make sure that products are shipped and delivered in time. A mistake that companies often do is, they do not delegate work equally among all employees. During the holiday season, it is pertinent to delegate sales, marketing and customer service duties among other departments too. Now is the time to get your IT staff or HR team to take up some social media or customer service roles, as there will definitely be an upsurge in customer queries.

Delegation of tasks among staff who are not trained to do it can cause some difficulties. However, it is temporary, and is one of the better alternatives when you do not have adequate manpower.

4. Do not overburden your employees with work

Research shows that employees do not perform well when they are stressed out. Stress can cause a lack of motivation and a loss in productivity. This directly affects your bottom line and results in poor sales performance and unimpressive business metrics. To address this issue, make sure that your employees take adequate breaks in between, and that they are not overburdened with too many roles. If making them overtime is difficult to avoid, make sure that they are given lengthy paid vacations post-holiday season.

Stress is known to cause various physical ailments as well. Do not be surprised if you suddenly start noticing a number of genuine medical leave applications during the holiday shopping season.

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5. Focus only on core business tasks

It is often easy to feel overwhelmed when too many shoppers are buying your products. The responsibilities that come with processing orders, managing inventory, and ensuring timely deliveries can be exhausting. This additional burden can directly affect your core business strategies and cause you to get distracted from managerial and administrative responsibilities. This is why, it is important to partner with an external vendor during Thanksgiving season so that you can focus on your core activities while your non-core activities are handled by a temporary team of external professionals.

Trying to do everything yourself is not realistic, and can unnecessarily reduce productivity metrics of your staff. Lowered productivity is equivalent to low staff availability, and that is not something you need.

Plan in advance to avoid staffing difficulties

To sail through the holiday season successfully, it is important to plan well in advance. You need to have a system in place to ensure that you tackle both absenteeism and presenteeism successfully. You can opt for temporary staffing solutions and make sure that you delegate tasks equally among your staff. Do not pressurize your employees into working more than what they can handle, and focus on your core business activities by partnering with an external agency, at least temporarily.

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