It’s no secret that the holidays are among the most hectic times of the year for businesses. Everyone wants to close off the year well, and the holiday season makes for some fantastic business opportunities, but staff also looks forward to spending more time with loved ones and away from work.
However, this year has been challenging for many people. Most businesses adopt an “all hands on deck” approach to the holidays, and this year is no exception, as the state of the world has encouraged companies to juggle an uncertain future in addition to the holiday rush.
Here, nine professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council weigh in on how businesses can successfully manage the extra holiday workload while already in crisis mode.
1. Carefully Plan Ahead
There’s no question that this year has been the craziest in recent memory. We are all pressed for time, and the current crisis is leaving many of us stressed and anxious about the future. This is especially true for small businesses and startups. If you’re in this situation, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Carefully create a plan that ensures you get everything wrapped up in time for the holidays. Prepare to make changes on the fly, because things rarely work out exactly as we intend. But most importantly, don’t feel bad about taking time off with your family during the holidays. If you “leave it all on the field,” so to speak, there’s no reason you should let minor setbacks ruin this special time of the year. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
2. Set A Very Intentional Schedule
The best thing both leaders and employees can do to manage their workload and leave time to recharge at the end of the workday is to set a very intentional schedule. I like to designate large blocks of time early in the day (when I am cognitively sharpest) for projects that require a significant amount of focus, then save meetings for the afternoon. I also make a list of the three most important things I need to accomplish in a day and commit to getting them done before noon. Both of these techniques are a huge help for staying on track when I’m juggling a heavy workload. I also encourage you to set a clear start and end time for your workday, especially if you work from home, to keep your work from spilling over into your home life. We need to recharge each day to stay at our best. – Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners
3. Have Backup Staff Ready To Help
Have a backup employee who will do the task in case things get busier or crazier. You can do this by hiring a part-time employee or by training someone else to be ready and flexible to work and help in case a certain department needs help. Prepare a month ahead of time and train and retrain all the time. – Daisy Jing, Banish
4. Set Clear Boundaries
I think this year, even more than others, the importance of spending time with family and loved ones has become even more apparent. When work gets overwhelming, it’s OK to appropriately share your feelings with your boss or co-workers and even clients. Prioritize the work that has to get done, but have boundaries to also find time to get the holiday rest and personal connections you need. – Jennifer Buonantony, Press Pass LA and PPLA Social + PR
5. Double Down On The 80/20 Rule
When I get very busy, I double down on the 80/20 rule. I focus my attention on the 20% of tasks that deliver 80% of results. I also prioritize which items are important and which items I need to say “no” to or shelf for later. Certain tasks can always be tabled, and if my team is really strained, I consider outsourcing or automating. Rarely is automation the answer to typical end-of-year workload, but if you find a fit that does not require significant onboarding and changes to your process, go for it. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
6. Know Your Team’s Availability
Most employees try to merge their holidays with a few extra days off so that they can have more personal time. In order to manage the workload, it’s important to know the availability of your team during the holidays. Communicate effectively and find out who isn’t available. Try to complete any task you have with them before they leave for the holidays. This will help you get things done faster without keeping anything pending. You should also coordinate on task coverage early and strategically if you’re unable to complete it on time. If possible, try to automate tasks to get things done faster. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
7. Ensure Employees Know What’s Expected
Ensuring all of your team members know what is expected of them and can perform their duties efficiently is the best way to manage your workload during the holidays and during times of chaos and uncertainty. To streamline our operations and client projects, I like to hold weekly team meetings to ensure everyone knows their project tasks, deadlines and deliverables. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
8. Automate As Much As Possible
Automation will save the day. Use it whenever possible to take as much of the busywork off your team’s hands as possible. For example, if you used to have them prepare weekly reports, make the work more efficient by arranging video meetings where you’ll discuss only the most important points. Do everything you can to save them more time. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. Hire Temporary Staff
Hiring temporary staff around the holidays is often seen as a maneuver limited to the retail sector, but it shouldn’t be. If your business picks up around the holidays and you want to maintain high team morale, consider outsourcing help. Having extra hands on deck for two or three weeks leading up to the holiday break can enable your full-time workers to comfortably take time off around the holidays without feeling like a burden to the company. This will also prevent your team from racking up overtime hours during peak season, which can negatively affect your bottom line. Although it has a big upfront cost, hiring temporary labor will reduce long-term costs, minimize stress and burnout and maintain your company’s momentum heading into the new year. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets