Managing holiday stress in the workplace can be challenging for anyone in a Customer Service Manager role. Your team has job responsibilities to attend to but may also have the added challenges of planning family gatherings, holiday shopping, scheduling trips and events, etc. Managing your employee schedules and time-off requests while ensuring your customers are taken care of can result in the ‘“perfect storm” of holiday stress at work if you don’t prepare for it. It’s important to end the year strong, with high employee morale, so here are some tips to help you reduce stress during the holidays.
Preparing Your Teams for the Holidays
It is essential to plan ahead in order to provide the best customer experience possible – while mitigating holiday stress and avoiding conflict. Remaining productive and maintaining service excellence during the holiday season can be crucial for a business to finish the year on a solid note. To help you better plan for the holiday season and keep employees producing their best work despite holiday-related distractions, consider the following:
- Plan for Holiday Scheduling – Companies need ample coverage for customer service and production needs during the holidays. So it’s essential to set a holiday schedule for team members and communicate it as early as possible so they can plan their holiday time off. Establishing an early deadline for holiday requests is also a good idea. Planning will allow you to review scheduling needs and accommodate requests wherever possible.
- Communicate Expectations – Consider a team meeting about how the winter holiday can bring distractions and why staying motivated is essential. Use this opportunity to communicate expectations. Consider also taking a more proactive approach, such as asking for daily status updates and analyzing project and customer service reports.
- Consider Hiring Temporary Staff – If need be, consider using the services of temporary staffing solutions for backup support so that your customers receive seamless service. It will give you the best chance of balancing your customers’ needs with giving holiday time off to your employees.
- Offer Help with Childcare – Working parents often have difficulty finding care for their children when schools close. Consider covering the cost of holiday childcare or day camps, providing free onsite childcare, or allowing parents to work remotely. Understanding the needs of working parents and providing solutions to their childcare needs will give them peace of mind, so they can focus on work and not worry about their children.
- Support Holiday Shopping – Consider giving your employees extended or extra breaks so they can work on their holiday shopping online, while at work. You could also set up a gift-wrapping table with all the supplies – even plan a gift-wrapping party! Any gesture that supports your teams as they prepare for the holidays will show that your company cares and that you want to make the holiday season as stress-free as possible for them.
- Prepare for Customer Complaints- While you need to run your department as efficiently as possible, it’s crucial to prepare your teams for potential customer complaints with clear protocols on how to address them. Customers tend to be more demanding and have less patience during the holidays and may even take their frustrations out on customer-facing employees. Upset customers can lead to increased stress within your department, so be open when discussing stress and anxiety and the best ways to manage it. Suggest mindfulness, physical exercise, and other stress management techniques that employees can adopt and follow independently.
- Inform Customers about Holiday Closures – One leading cause of customer dissatisfaction is not receiving advance notice of business closures during the holidays. If you plan to close during the holidays, announce it well in advance on your business storefront, website, social media, and recorded phone greetings. This will help your customers plan around your holiday schedule.
- Plan a Celebration – Last but not least, it’s a lot easier to get through holiday stress if we have some fun holiday parties to look forward to! In a recent blog, we provided helpful tips on planning an event that celebrates and recognizes your diverse teams. Every business needs to assess what’s suitable for its culture, workforce, and budget. Use this gathering to acknowledge your team’s contributions, thank everyone for their effort throughout the year – especially during the holiday season – and convey your excitement about the year ahead.
To summarize: The holiday season is busy for many businesses, and you’re asking your teams to balance work, family, and other demands. Keep your employees engaged and productive this season by setting clear expectations while showing support and flexibility, working out holiday scheduling and childcare needs, and acknowledging and celebrating employee contributions. Implementing these plans can go a long way in helping keep productivity up, reducing stress, and substantially boosting employee morale!