Updated: May 7, 2022
With the Christmas rush not far away - now is the time to be thinking about how your business and your workforce are structured to make sure you are able to meet all those Christmas orders that are coming your way!
I am going to take you through 3 areas of your business to be thinking about RIGHT NOW if you are expecting a rush of sales over Christmas: workforce planning, recruitment & selection and onboarding. In HR we call it Organisational Design.
As you read through this blog, make some notes and see how well prepared your business is for the Christmas rush.
Workforce planning really is as simple as it sounds. It's the who, where, when and why of your people.
Regardless of where you're at in your business, the first thing you want to review is where your business is at now in terms of people. I want you to record the number of people working in your business as of today and how many labour hours that provides you per week.
For example you might have 5 members of staff working 35 hours per week which gives you 175 labour hours per week.
Next I want you to think about whether this is enough to meet your current and your prospective customer demand. Think about these questions and, if you don't know the answer, do the maths.
How many hours does it take to fulfil a customer order?
How many orders are you getting per week?
How much is your order book likely to increase over the Christmas period?
Does this change the amount of labour hours you require?
Do you need extra people/hours and if so, in what roles?
If you are bringing in extra people - how will you need to change the structure of the business to support them? Will you need to hire another manager to help you deal with extra staff?
Think about what needs to change and how you are going to make it happen. Most likely, you're going to need more hands on deck so you don't burn out, right?
Recruitment & Selection
What a great segway into the next part! If more labour hours is needed, then you need more people.
So first up, think about how you currently recruit staff into your business. How effective are your current methods and on average, how long does it take you to fill a role from advertisement to start date?
On average, it can take up to 8 weeks to fill a vacancy from advertisement to start date.
If it takes two weeks of advertising a role, two weeks to interview and your candidate has a 4 week notice period, you're looking at 8 weeks to get someone into your business. Which means that really - you need to be recruiting NOW for Christmas.
You also need to think about your budget for recruitment. I've said it before (in a podcast I think) that recruitment is basically marketing for your employees. You can do it for free but it might take you longer and might not reach the right audience, or you can pay for support and target your ads to the people you want to reach much more quickly. There is no right or wrong way, but consider how your budget will affect the progress of your recruitment campaign.
Then you'll need to turn your attention to what you're actually recruiting for! Now, if you haven't already watched it, I'd suggest having a butchers at the training I did over on Instagram on hiring your dream employee because we want to make sure we are hiring people who are actually going to turn up and muck in with all this extra work you've got going on!
Next up - think about what contract type you want to offer.
If you have absolutely no idea what labour hours you're going to need over Christmas, a Zero Hours Contract might work well for you. Zero Hours contracts have NOT been abolished contrary to popular belief! Exclusivity clauses within the contracts have been abolished. That means that you can hire someone on a Zero Hours basis, but you can't tell them not to take any other work with another company.
Zero Hours are great because you are not contractually obliged to provide a certain number of hours to the employee or worker each week.
The downside is that Zero Hours workers can decline any work that you offer them.
If you know what hours you want to offer per week but you only need someone to cover the festive period, a Fixed Term contract would be great for you. Fixed Term contracts are a normal employment contract but for a fixed period of time, such as 3 months. You can choose to extend the contract term once it's in place or you can even offer a permanent contract at the end of the term.
Fixed term contracts offer great flexibility of labour for peak seasons of work.
Fixed term contracts can be difficult to recruit for, particularly if they're for 6 months or less.
The final piece of this puzzle - onboarding.
We already know that recruitment can take up to 8 weeks from advertisement to start date. But the process doesn't end when we have someone through the door. We need to onboard them to the business!
When you get on a plane (those were the days!) they don't just shove you down that ramp and let you find your way to the plane and your seat. There's a lovely, smiley member of airline staff to welcome you on the plane, help you find your seat, answer any questions you have and hopefully bring you a drink!
That's the experience we want our newbies to have, even if they're only with us for a short period of time, because you might want them back next year!
So what should your onboarding look like? Well, it starts with an induction. You can make this as personal to your business as you like. But it should include
basic, need to know information about the company
what to do if they're unwell
what to do if they want to book holiday
what to do if the fire alarm goes off
where the first aid kit is
where the kettle is
where the loos are
if there's a dress-down Friday or any other dress code info
introductions to other members of the team
and most importantly, training
You see, the induction process wants to last for about 2 weeks depending on the role and the amount of training required, but it wants to go further than just showing them where the loos are on day one!
You want your newbie to get settled in, understand how you work and start to learn their job and, you want this to be done and dusted before you get busy. You know as well as I do, that you won't have time to train a new member of staff to your standards when all those extra orders start rolling in.
So really, if you're looking at a maximum of 8 weeks for recruitment and 2 weeks for onboarding, it could take you up to 10 weeks to organise your Christmas help. Which means, we need to get cracking now!
Don't panic, get organised.
Don't be freaking out now - take some time to work through the notes you have made from this blog, give yourself half an hour to watch the training video on hiring your dream employees and get in touch if you have any questions or need any support.