Our Joint Managing Director, Karen Ovenden, recently shared her thoughts on how she thinks we can best support staff during the festive season in a piece originally published on LinkedIn.

What’s going on in your office this festive season? Chances are, like many businesses, yours has the same issues all are facing – staff thin on the ground, last-minute projects to finish and a tree that’s not going to decorate itself. But how do you overcome the absences and the last-minute issues that arise while everyone is winding down for the festivities?

As a small business owner, the holidays can be a challenging time. We want to embrace the festive spirit, down tools and dish out the mulled wine – but it’s rarely that straight forward. Christmas is a time like any other – the phones are still ringing, and customers still need us. Here’s how we manage our office activity in the countdown to Christmas.

Plan ahead:

Christmas comes around every year, whether you like it or not – and it’s a period of activity (or lack of activity) that we need to be able to anticipate. For some, this may be a busy period, a quiet period or a business as usual period. Identifying what you expect to be working on during the month of December into early January will really help you work out how staff absences can be managed and what demands will be placed on each team. What is in the pipeline? Which projects had a deadline at the end of 2019? You want to be able to manage anything big coming out of the woodwork late in the year. Also, think about What was Christmas like in previous years. You should be able to get a good feel for what to expect based on these two factors.

Embrace remote working:

Throughout the Christmas period, there will be staff who need to work from home. They may have children that are off school or ailing relatives or neighbours in need of more care and support in the cold weather. Bad weather might make it difficult for staff to make their way into the office. Whatever the reason may be, business continuity needn’t be a struggle if your staff are able to work remotely. Just remind staff to carry their laptops home with them if the forecasts are for blizzards – this has actually happened to us!

The power of the handover:

For any staff with longer periods of absence planned, a handover is always key. Keeping colleagues aware of any ongoing work and deadlines, along with a shared storage of current work is essential. Where multiple team members are taking overlapping leave, starting the month with a team meeting to discuss ongoing work and delivery deadlines, along with giving clear responsibilities to each team member can be useful. This also helps to resolve ambiguities and minimizes the risk of any work being missed!

Boost morale:

There should hopefully still be some staff holding the fort right up until Christmas Eve, unless you’re fully closing for the break (lucky you!). But what can you do to make the day enjoyable for those that are still coming into the office? Firstly, Christmas jumpers are a must. Even the most curmudgeonly of colleagues can’t help but break out into a grin at the sight of a silly festive jumper. Secondly, Christmas music! Love it or hate it, Christmas Eve is the one day that those cheesy tunes are borderline compulsory. Christmas karaoke, on the other hand, is very much optional. Lastly, encourage everyone to bring in their favourite festive snack and all can share in a jolly feast. If you’re able to, letting people leave just that bit early on Christmas Eve is always a nice touch!

So, now you’ve got some ideas on how to keep the office ticking over at Christmas, it’s time to down tools for a glass of something warming. Well, ‘tis the season!

Thanks to Karen for these handy tips for a happy Christmas! We hope it has given some inspiration to the ways you can support your own resourcing solutions when staff levels are low.

About the author

Tristan Potter

From recruitment into central government, to financial services and the charitable sector, Leah has worked across many industries in her wide ranging career! Now working as Hireserve's Senior Marketing Executive, Leah covers all things marketing - from maintaining our social media channels to managing logistics for events across the country.