3.12.2020

How to Make Working Retail During the Holidays More Fun

Written by Austin Chegini

pexels gustavo fring 6050396

Holiday shopping is not always fun for staff, but your business needs sales. After all, holidays shoppers globally sometimes spend over $1 trillion during the holiday season.

Although your staff should be well aware of the large crowds, you should do all you can to make working retail during the holidays tolerable. 

How do staff feel about working retail during the holidays?

The holiday shopping season seems to get longer each year, and employees face an onslaught of countless demands. Your workers are not only overworked, but they also have to deal with rude customers and unorganised stores. On top of these, employees must endure hours of listening to the same holiday songs. 

A survey of workers between late November to early December found that these were the top five issues around working the holidays:

  • 78% of retail workers said poor treatment and harassment from customers
  • 61% of workers cited low pay for such hard work
  • 49% struggled with long hours or too short of a shift
  • 47% said inconsistent weekly scheduling and changes
  • 43% of retail workers said poor treatment from management

With all this in mind, it is wise to find ways that make working retail during the holidays enjoyable. 

How to make the holidays more fun

Try these ideas to give back to your staff this year! 

Create larger staff schedules 

With larger crowds of shoppers come large staff rosters. You will need all the help you can get, especially during the last week before Christmas. 

For this reason, just one person calling out sick or not showing up will severely strain your workers. Before this problem has a chance to pop up, it is best to prevent it in the first place. 

By overstaffing, you can compensate for the inevitable callouts and cover unexpected surges. While this will cause higher labour costs, it will help keep morale high during a stressful period. Your workers will have more energy and time to spend with customers. 

Give team masks and outfits

Your retail employees need to stay safe this year, so they should wear masks at all times. Instead of using plain masks, you can jazz things up a little to add to the holiday cheer. 

For just a small investment, you can supply holiday-themed masks for your workers. But why stop there? Perhaps you can pair your masks with Santa hats, elf ears, fun shirts, and more! 

Make the break room more relaxing

Your staff will deserve rest and relaxation after a few hours on the floor, but they may not feel energised if your break room is cold and uninviting. 

While breaks are vital, many employees do not get the correct type of rest they need. Studies show that workers need to psychologically detach themselves from work to feel replenished. Instead of using the break room to vent about shoppers, your employees should do what they can to disassociate with the store.

To ensure your employees are well-rested and ready for the busy rush, consider the following upgrades:

  • Stock it with snacks: Bring fresh cookies, protein bars, and other treats to energise your team.
  • Decorate for the season: Put up decorations, a small tree, or even a fake fireplace to make your sanctuary more welcoming.
  • Make breaks longer: Your team is likely working harder than any other time throughout the year. Giving workers an extra 5-10 minutes on long days can help them get through long days without decreased productivity.
  • Bring in movies and games: Research shows that even watching a short funny video can increase employee persistence. 

Let different employees be the DJ

Holiday music is warmly welcomed when the season starts, but it quickly becomes a nightmare for many retail workers. Playing the same songs over and over again could decrease employee morale. 

To negate some of the negative effects of holiday shopping, let your workers take control of the playlist every so often. Not only will this change up the music, but it will also give your workers a sense of ownership. 

Create a schedule that grants each employee a set time to run the show - perhaps an hour. Set some ground rules (no profanity, certain genres, etc) so that you can still maintain your store’s atmosphere. 

With the right approach, your workers will be more engaged and energised when they know their time to DJ is coming up. 

If you run a large retail store, be sure to check the relevant copyright laws regarding playing music. 

Cater meals on busy days

Working retail can be tiring, especially when constantly restocking shelves and assisting countless holiday shoppers. Your team will need to eat well and stay hydrated to maintain steady energy levels on long days. However, many retail workers quickly scarf down unhealthy food that leaves them feeling unsatisfied or lethargic. 

To keep your workforce motivated and in peak condition, it may be wise to cater meals on especially long days. 

To start, think about which mealtime works best for your business. If you open early, it may be wise to bring in breakfast to jumpstart your day. If you are open late, an evening meal might be needed to get that final boost of energy. 

First, choose a vendor that provides food for all dietary needs. Next, create a Google Sheet and have employees input their requests. Finally, thank your staff for their hard work during this busy season!

Choose a local charity to support

It’s always good to show your compassionate side, especially during the season of giving. Not only will supporting a charity set a good example for your employees, but it will also give them a sense of pride to be part of your organisation. 

Moreover, the 2018 Cox Business Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses survey found that shoppers spend more at businesses that support positive social or environmental causes. What’s more, the majority of those surveyed said businesses should openly disclose the causes they support. 

Here’s some tips on getting started:

  • Take nominations: Give your employees a voice and let them recommend local causes
  • Setup a voting process: Use Google Forms to vote on one or two charities. 
  • Encourage donations: Boost involvement by having employees and shoppers add to your donation. 

Once you’re ready to send the funds, be sure to share the total amount with your staff and customers.