Skip to main content

The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s holidays are approaching and that often means the small businesses will operate on a skeleton crew. For many businesses, the holiday season is a slow time, so they are glad to give their team the freedom to take time with their families. However, just because it’s slow, the business still needs to function.

Here are six things to consider as the end of the year approaches.

  1. What will your business hours be? Do you have any days you’ll close or have reduced hours?
  2. Does your business need someone available to answer the phones/be available to see customers the week of the holidays?
    Note: different staff may celebrate different holidays, or may like to work over the holidays for other reasons, such as saving up vacation days for a big spring getaway.  Planning ahead and asking your staff who would like to volunteer to work during your busy or hard-to-staff periods may help you cover everyone’s shifts without causing stress.  You can even include incentives for working when no one else wants to work.
  3. Which of your team members will be taking time off, and when?
    Note: your team members may include contractors, who don’t need your permission to take time off; however, it’s important to know what their availability is.
  4. Will the holidays be slow or busy for your business? If busy, do you need to bring on additional staff? If so, what do you need them to do?
  5. What kind of projects/deliverables do you have for the end of the year? How will limited staff availability impact them?
  6. What are the essential functions/processes that must happen even if your business slows down?  And who can cover if the staff who regularly do these processes take time off?

Planning for the holidays can actually serve a larger purpose: it can help you identify the need to cross-train some of your key staff, which can serve you well not only during holidays, but also during medical leaves, weather emergencies, and other planned or unexpected times when your staffing changes and you need coverage for essential functions.  The key is to think about your needs and schedules early, before you hit crunch time.