Ever worked in retail? If so, you know how absolutely brutal it can be to keep your sanity as the holidays get closer.
And if you're worried that your employees might get derailed in the coming weeks, consider these tips to keep employee engagement up this holiday season:
1. Realize what role you might play in exacerbating stress
Your employees will already be enduring thoroughly busy and stressful days. Do everything within your power to not make it worse.
2. Be honest about what employees should expect during the busy season
Don’t beat around the bush. Be up-front with prospective employees and tell them exactly what work will be like on the busiest days.
3. Recognize staff members who go above and beyond
People like to be recognized for their efforts. Be sure to sing the praises of your staff often — this is especially crucial during stressful times.
4. Be courteous to your employees’ need for time off
Employees have families too. While they might have to work on a holiday or the day before one, be sure to give them adequate time off so they can relax with their families too.
5. Bring in tasty food and drink
The best part of work during the holidays: the free food and drink that materialize out of nowhere (or from the leadership team).
6. Have a fun company party
No, your staff members don’t want to eat cake in the break room. Take them somewhere special (e.g., bowling or rock climbing) to show them you care.
7. Treat them to a nice dinner
Better yet, take your employees out for some fine dining. Everyone needs to eat.
8. Hand out awards (or rewards) for those who deserve them most
Rock-star employees deserve a special thank you. Give out small gifts (e.g., a $20 Amazon gift card) to your best workers.
9. Give back to the community
Organize a day where everyone chips in to give back to the community. Added bonus: it’s a great way to build a stronger team.
10. Encourage friendly team competitions
Who can sell the most t-shirts? Who can upsell the most? A little friendly competition never hurt anyone.
11. Offer flexible working arrangements
If an employee has to spend a few hours at their child's Christmas play, for example, give that person the option of taking a long lunch.
12. Don’t overwork your staff
Employees are human. Don’t let them burn out.
13. Provide the support they need to be successful (e.g., technology)
Invest in your employees and give them the tools they need to dominate their jobs. Such investments pay dividends.
14. Consider sharing some of the excess profits
If your business is crushing it this year, give each staff member a small bonus as a token of appreciation.
15. Create a welcoming, relaxing, and happy atmosphere
Don’t make work miserable. The happier your employees, the happier your customers.
16. Communicate clearly and often
No employees like being kept in the dark. Let your team know what’s going on — always.
17. Set challenging goals
No matter how good you’re doing, you could always do better. Encourage your team to aim for the sky.
18. Don’t micromanage your staff
Nobody wants their manager to look over their shoulder. Let your employees figure out their best approach to work.
19. Play Secret Santa
It’s a fun game, and you may end up with something cool.
20. Or play White Elephant
It’s a more fun game, and you may end up with something cooler, unless someone steals from you.
21. Remind your employees about the difference they are making in customers’ lives
Holidays are stressful for everyone. Helping a frantic mother find the right gift for her child can be a godsend.
22. Take your workers out for drinks
What better way is there to cool down after a jam-packed day at a retail joint?
23. Give your employees more accountability
There’s more to do during the holiday season. Let your team become accountable for their own sales without you breathing down their necks.
24. Seek ideas on how to improve operations
Your staff certainly has ideas on how operations can improve. Find out what they are.
25. Listen to those ideas and implement the best ones
Assuming a couple of them are good, put those ideas into action. Your employees will love knowing you care about what they think enough to make changes.
26. Staff appropriately
The holidays bring in a ton of traffic. Make sure you have enough people to do the job well.
27. Embrace diversity and individuality
Everyone is different. Don't shove Christmas down their throat if they celebrate Hanukkah.
28. Get on the front line
No one wants to work for a lazy boss. Help your employees by cashiering, restocking, or tidying up.
29. Switch things up
If, for example, a staffer is always manning the cash register, swap that person’s responsibilities with someone who’s doing inventory or stocking shelves — it keeps things interesting.
30. Laugh and smile early and often
If you’re channeling your inner Ebenezer Scrooge, there’s a good chance your employees will be too.
31. Get to know your employees
Ask your employees how their weekend was or what their plans are for the holidays. It shows you care.
32. Keep your door open and be approachable
The easier it is for your employees to talk to you, the fewer communication problems there will be.
33. Treat your staff as humans, not robots
Your employees operate on their own brainwaves, so don’t try to manage all of your employees in the same exact manner.
34. Remember that patience is a virtue
The holidays can be crazy. Be patient and rise above the stress.
35. Offer incentives
Sell more than the average on so-and-so day, and get such-and-such reward.
36. Give your employees gifts
Your staff helps your business thrive. Don’t forget them as you do your holiday shopping.
37. Let your employees show holiday cheer
Got a strict dress code at work? Let your staff wear Santa hats or something similar if they want to.
38. Hire great shift supervisors
Your shift supervisors are an extension of your authority. Make sure you hire the right people to assume those roles.
39. Put up some festive decorations
Sure, you don't have control over how the store is decorated, but you do have control over the break room (back room, even!).
Communicate, lead by example, and don’t lie. When your staff trusts you, they’ll listen to you and put up with more.
41. Remove dead weight before busy season begins
Do you have an employee everyone complains about? Get rid of that toxic employee before they bring down morale during the holiday rush.
42. Take a zany group photo
The more outrageous, the better. Add some reindeer or elves as props too.
43. Respect your staff
Action speaks louder than words, so show employees you respect them as individuals.
44. Think of ways to improve, constantly
Odds are you could be doing better, so never rest on your laurels.
45. Promote teamwork
When staff members help each other out and work together harmoniously, the job becomes incredibly easier.
46. Create a break schedule
Prevent burnout by creating a break schedule. It ensures your employees are taking advantage of all of their breaks.
47. Let employees pick out music (within reason)
Why shouldn’t a team member be able to put on his or her favorite Christmas album?
48. Work even harder
If the holidays are the busiest time of the year for your business, you’ve got to work as hard as you can to survive them.
49. Take a break
A grouchy manager doesn’t make for non-stressed employees. You are not a machine. Don’t forget to rest.
50. Start a new tradition
The holidays come every year. If your zany group photo turns out spectacularly, for example, why not put it up on the wall and take another one next year?
How do you keep your retail employees happy and engaged during the holidays? Share your tips in the comments section below!