The Christmas period usually heralds increased sales. In December 2016 small businesses showed a sales increase of 17.4% in comparison to 2015 (ONS). However, the end of the working year can also mean disruption to the workplace if not managed carefully by employers. Mounting holiday requests and festive party absences can bring headaches and smaller businesses in particular could be disproportionately affected. It pays to think ahead about how you are going to manage your staff during the Christmas period.

Tips on managing staff during the Christmas holidays:

  • Organise overtime – many firms expect to ramp up sales in the run up to the festive season so make workforce plans to match. You may need to ask staff to undertake overtime during the busiest periods. It’s reasonable to ask staff to do so where a clause in their contract covers this. An Employment Tribunal last year found the dismissal of an employee to be fair when she refused to work overtime despite a clause in her contract requiring her to work extra hours when needed (Edwards v Bramble Foods Ltd).
  • Arrange overtime pay schedule and rota overtime plans well in advance paying heed to whether an employee’s contract covers this. This will ensure that the right number and type of staff are available to meet demand. An automated payroll system can take care of the headaches of reconciling irregular hours worked with payroll.
  • Prepare staff schedules in advance – nearly two thirds (64.7%) of UK workers dislike working over the Christmas period. Employees understandably don’t want to miss out on family time. Scheduling rotas and shifts well in advance means that staff can access them too and make their plans. It will also leave them time to arrange any swaps.
  • Remind staff about HR policies – ensure that managers and staff are reminded about the importance of good conduct at work-related social events especially where alcohol will be available. Without wanting to be a party pooper it’s good practice to head off any trouble. Ultimately the employer has a duty of care towards staff and could be liable under the Equality Act 2010 which covers acts of harassment etc.
  • Be mindful of employee wellbeing – amidst the party atmosphere, some staff will be feeling the pressures of the season. Almost 50% of men feel depressed over Christmas, according to a Samaritans study. It could be financial or social pressures which bring people down, so be sensitive. It’s also worth bearing in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas so avoid making assumptions.
  • Be a human manager! – while you’ve got managing on your mind, remember to show your human face too to staff. It will pay off in good relations with staff. Join in the fun, be human, but keep things professional.

Planning ahead and being clear will add up to having a happier team at Christmas. When there’s so much else to worry about it’s best to reduce the stress in the workplace as far as possible.

The Chronologic Workforce Management System enables employees to check and request holidays as well as see their rotas and timecards online – useful during busy holiday periods!

For more information about our solutions and products call 01761 410015 or email