From shopping centers turning into winter wonderlands to sharing gifts with loved ones, the holidays are an exciting season. For retailers, there are other reasons to love the holidays, including: happy customers, performance opportunities, and a better bottom line.

Even with all this excitement, the holidays can be hard. Employees tend to work longer hours, and everyone will be busy-busy-busy. This can have a big impact on your business. A research paper on Staff Morale & Burnout by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign cites several studies that show low morale and burnout as the leading causes to more sick-days, higher turnover, reduced quality of service, and poor customer outcomes.1

With the holidays approaching, discussions about morale and customer service are timely, as large retail corporations take on large numbers of seasonal staff.

More Hands on Deck: Hiring Seasonal Staff

The National Retail Federation projects retailers will fill in between 700,000 and 750,000 new positions for the holidays.2 This includes hourly roles and management positions with some retailers starting in the first few weeks of November.3 This massive wave of new faces and a short window for training makes retailers vulnerable to low staff morale.

Studies by Richard Lazarus, Ph.D. and Susan Folkman, Ph.D., found staff with a greater perceived control over the challenges of their work had lower levels of stress and burnout.4 Meaning, when store teams are empowered to do their best work, they’re more likely to cope with the stresses of the holidays.

Encourage Store Meetings with Management

A great way to boost the morale of seasonal staff, especially those in management roles, is to encourage regular store meetings. Many retailers, like Walmart, have management meetings on specific days of the week. However, these meetings are traditionally restricted to senior-levels of management.

According to a survey by Deloitte, businesses with open and free-flowing communication reported a 21% higher level of workplace satisfaction than those that were more restrictive with roles.5 When communication is open within the whole store, instead of segmented by role and departments, all members of staff feel included.

Include Store Managers in Corporate Policies

The most effective corporate policies are the ones that improve the quality of work and productivity of its stores. They’re the framework for how business is to be done, like product returns and store procedures, for managing inventory logs. With policies having such a direct impact on in-store operations and procedures, store managers should have a voice in the direction of policy changes for the holidays.

Including store managers in the discussion of revamping policies ensures they have the influence needed for their responsibilities. Changing a policy in the middle of the holidays is often times a response to negative customer experiences and quality of work. To be proactive, store managers should have a voice during the revisiting process.

Enable Store Managers to Collaborate

District managers are responsible for corporate initiatives and supporting their store managers. To do this effectively, they rely on store managers to communicate needs and meet expectations.

Store managers are responsible for daily field operations. For this reason, they need to collaborate with other store managers for support. Collaborations may span from redistributing staff members between stores, coordinating storage, and collaborating on return procedures with district managers acting as the coordinator.

The holiday seasons for retailers are often times illustrated with angry customers rushing the door and long checkout lines with a handful of staff. When retailers enable their store managers to take greater influence over store operations and open communication is encouraged, stores are better equipped to take on holiday challenges.

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References:
1. Chungsup L, et al. “Staff Morale & Burnout”. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. https://illinois.edu/lb/files/2012/06/01/39974.pdf
2. Kathy A. “National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 3.7%”. National Retail Federation. https://nrf.com/resources/holiday-headquarters/retail-employment-and-seasonal-hiring
3. Ibid.
4. Richard Lazarus Ph.D. & Susan Folkman, Ph.D., Stress, Appraisal, and Coping (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1984), 65-67.
5. Winning over the next generation of leaders”. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdf

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